Rachel Nichols has been removed from all ESPN coverage and her weekday afternoon show “The Jump” has been terminated, the network announced on Wednesday, August 25, 2021. In July, the longtime NBA host came under fire after recordings of her saying that coworker Maria Taylor was promoted over her because of the “drive for diversity.”
While her TV mic was still on, Nichols had a private conversation with LeBron James’ publicist in June 2020, and she was overheard allegedly saying that Taylor was given certain TV roles to cover to appease the Black Lives Matter movement, which was raging at the time following the murder of George Floyd. The network’s original punishment included excluding Nichols from any coverage of the 2021 NBA Finals. Taylor also took over as host of the NBA Countdown before to the games, replacing Nichols.
ESPN’s senior vice president of production, David Roberts, said the sides “mutually decided that this approach regarding our NBA coverage was best for all concerned” in a statement to CNN. Rachel is a fantastic reporter, host, and writer, and we appreciate all of her contributions to our NBA coverage.”
Despite being stripped of her duties, Nichols’ contract is still valid for another year. On “The Jump,” she also addressed the news on Twitter and praised her colleagues.
“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 …,” Nichols tweeted.
Taylor has moved on from ESPN after the two sides were unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension. She’s currently part of the NBC Sports team, and she made her first appearance with the network last month during coverage of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.