Sports | August 26, 2021 10:27 am

ESPN Pulls Rachel Nichols From All NBA Coverage and Cancels “The Jump”

The moves come a month after disparaging comments Nichols made about her ex-colleague Maria Taylor were reported

ESPN Pulls Rachel Nichols, pictured here at a TV show premiere, From All NBA Coverage
Rachel Nichols attends the Season 7 premiere of "Game Of Thrones."
Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

First reported by The Sports Business Journal, ESPN has pulled Rachel Nichols from all NBA coverage and permanently sent the basketball show she helped lead, The Jump, to the bench.

The moves come a month after disparaging comments Nichols made about her ex-colleague Maria Taylor that ultimately led to the 47-year-old being pulled off the sidelines during this year’s NBA Finals and Taylor departing for NBC after failing to renew her contract with ESPN (as reported by The New York Times). Taylor, who is Black, was chosen over Nichols to host NBA Countdown during the 2020 NBA Finals. In a leaked conversation from a private phone call, Nichols attributed being passed over for the job to ESPN feeling pressure about its record on diversity issues.

“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball,” Nichols, who later apologized on the air, said in the leaked call. “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.”

Future plans for Nichols at the network were not announced and, based on her tweet and about the cancellation of The Jump, it is difficult to guess what lies ahead for her at ESPN, if anything.

“We mutually agreed that this approach regarding our NBA coverage was best for all concerned,” David Roberts, ESPN senior VP of production, said in a statement. “Rachel is an excellent reporter, host and journalist, and we thank her for her many contributions to our NBA content.”

Per The New York Post, ESPN will pay Nichols the balance of the final year of her contract, which likely approaches $2 million. Sources for the publication said she won’t appear on ESPN again. If that’s the case, Nichols should land on her feet and find work with another media company — possibly Turner Sports?

With Nichols seemingly out of the fold and The Jump canceled, ESPN will pivot to an NFL Live-like panel show for its NBA coverage, per The Post. Malika Andrews, Chiney Ogwumike, Richard Jefferson and Kendrick Perkins all could be part of the new show.