ESPN will cancel its show hosted by Rachel Nichols and pull the longtime reporter from NBA coverage amid ongoing backlash to race-related comments she made about former colleague Maria Taylor, the network confirmed Wednesday. ESPN will pull Nichols’ weekday show “The Jump,” and plans to exchange it with new NBA content. it’s unclear when the program will explore the air.
“We mutually agreed that this approach regarding our NBA coverage was best for all concerned. Rachel is a superb reporter, host, and journalist, and that we thank her for her many contributions to our NBA content,” ESPN senior vice chairman for production David Roberts said during a statement.
Nichols seemed to confirm her show’s cancelation Wednesday. during a tweet, she said, “The Jump was never built to last forever but it sure was fun.” She added: “More to return …” A New York Times report in July revealed the comments Nichols made a year earlier to Adam Mendelsohn, an advisor to NBA superstar LeBron James, which made waves within the Walt Disney-owned company and pro-basketball world.
In remarks captured on video without her knowledge, Nichols indicated she thought Taylor got employment hosting ESPN’s pregame and postgame coverage of the 2020 NBA Finals because she is Black and therefore the network was trying to enhance its record on diversity.
“If you would like to offer her more things to try to because you’re feeling pressure about your crappy longtime record on diversity — which, by the way, I do know personally from the feminine side of it — like, go for it,” Nichols, who is white, said in audio published by the days.
“Just find it elsewhere. you’re not getting to find it from me or taking my thing away,” she said. Following the day’s report, ESPN benched Nichols during 2021 NBA Finals coverage. After a quick hiatus, she resumed hosting “The Jump.”
After the audio of her comments surfaced, Nichols apologized to Taylor on air. Taylor left ESPN earlier this year after she did not reach a contract extension with the network. She joined NBC Sports and was a number and correspondent during the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.