It was only a matter of time before ESPN reporter Rachel Nichols was shown the door.
Nearly two months after Nichols was caught on the pandemic version of a hot-mic blaming “diversity” for losing a job to former ESPN colleague Maria Taylor, Nichols is no longer involved with ESPN’s NBA coverage, and her show “The Jump” has been canceled. Nichols has been the host of “The Jump” for the past five years.
The news was first reported by Sports Business Journal.
“We mutually agreed that this approach regarding our NBA coverage was best for all concerned,” ESPN Senior VP/Production David Roberts said in a statement emailed to SBJ. “Rachel is an excellent reporter, host and journalist, and we thank her for her many contributions to our NBA content.”
Nichols hopped on Twitter to confirm the end of the show.
“Got to create a whole show and spend five years hanging out with some of my favorite people … talking about one [sic] my favorite things … An eternal thank you to our amazing producers & crew – The Jump was never built to last forever but it sure was fun … More to come… “
Got to create a whole show and spend five years hanging out with some of my favorite people ❤️ talking about one my favorite things 🏀 An eternal thank you to our amazing producers & crew – The Jump was never built to last forever but it sure was fun. 😎
More to come… pic.twitter.com/FPMFRlfJin
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) August 25, 2021
Nichols found herself in hot water after a conversation between herself and longtime LeBron James advisor Adam Mendelsohn was inadvertently recorded and leaked. The conversation took place in Nichols’ hotel room in Orlando, Florida, while in the NBA bubble, where the 2020 NBA Playoffs were taking place. Nichols had recently been informed by management that she would not be hosting ESPN’s pregame and postgame shows for the NBA Finals. Taylor — who is black — would be given the assignment.
“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball,” Nichols said on July 13, 2020. “If you need to give her more things to do because you are feeling pressure about your crappy longtime record on diversity — which, by the way, I know personally from the female side of it — like, go for it. Just find it somewhere else. You are not going to find it from me or taking my thing away.”
“I just want them to go somewhere else — it’s in my contract, by the way; this job is in my contract in writing.”
In July, The New York Times published an article detailing the fallout from the leaked audio which had reportedly angered many employees — including Taylor — at the four-letter network.
After the recording became public, Nichols issued an apology on her now-canceled show.
“The first thing they teach you in journalism school is, ‘Don’t be the story.’ And I don’t plan to break that rule today or distract from a fantastic Finals,” Nichols said. “But I also don’t want to let this moment pass without saying how much I respect, how much I value our colleagues here at ESPN. How deeply, deeply sorry I am for disappointing those I hurt, particularly Maria Taylor. And how grateful I am to be a part of this outstanding team.”
As is always the case, the apology was not nearly enough, and Nichols was eventually removed from her sideline duties for the 2021 NBA Finals and one of the episodes of “The Jump” was canceled.
Per SBJ, Nichols is still under contract with ESPN and has more than a year remaining on her contract, “but it is unlikely that she will appear on ESPN’s air during that time.”
Taylor is no longer with ESPN, unable to come to an agreement with the network for a new contract. She has since moved on to NBC.
The news is the most recent of multiple changes to ESPN’s programming. It was announced Tuesday that Max Kellerman would be leaving “First Take” — a show he’s hosted since 2016 with Stephen A. Smith — and will now join ESPN’s morning radio show with Keyshawn Johnson and Jay Williams.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to [email protected]