Rachel Nichols: ESPN ditches reporter after race row

Rachel Nichols hosted the basketball show ‘The Jump’ for five years

Maroosha Muzaffar
Thursday 26 August 2021 07:48 BST
<p>File: Rachel Nichols’ basketball show ‘The Jump’ has been cancelled by ESPN and she has been taken off NBA programming</p>

File: Rachel Nichols’ basketball show ‘The Jump’ has been cancelled by ESPN and she has been taken off NBA programming

ESPN has cancelled Rachel Nichols’ daily basketball show “The Jump,” which she has hosted for five years, and taken her off NBA programming, the channel confirmed on Wednesday.

The move comes more than a month after her disparaging comments about colleague Maria Taylor were reported in the New York Times.

In a phone conversation with an advisor to LeBron James — that was accidentally recorded — Ms Nichols — who is white — had said that Ms Taylor — who is Black — was asked to host the 2020 NBA finals coverage because the channel executives were “feeling pressure” on diversity.

Ms Taylor has since left ESPN and moved to NBC.

David Roberts, who was named last week to oversee the network’s NBA coverage, said in a statement: “We mutually agreed that this approach regarding our NBA coverage was best for all concerned. Rachel is an excellent reporter, host and journalist, and we thank her for her many contributions to our NBA content.”

Ms Nichols also confirmed the news on her Instagram page. She wrote: “Got to create a whole show and spend five years hanging out with some of my favourite people talking about one [of] my favourite 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…”

In the phone conversation, Nichols had said: “I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball. 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.”

Ms Nichols apologised for the comments on “The Jump” on 5 July.

Associated Press reported that ESPN will have a “new daily NBA show that will premiere sometime before the regular season begins in October.”

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