ESPN cancels Rachel Nichols’ show, pulls her from NBA coverage following race controversy
ESPN sideline reporter, Rachel Nichols reports the game during Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on June 24, 2021 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California.
Jim Poorten | National Basketball Association | Getty Images
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 replace it with new NBA content. It is unclear when the program will go off the air.
“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,” David Roberts, the senior vice president for production at ESPN, said in a statement.
Nichols appeared to confirm her show’s cancelation Wednesday. In a tweet, she said, “The Jump was never built to last forever but it sure was fun.”
She added: “More to come …”
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 in the Walt Disney-owned company and NBA world.
In remarks captured on video without her knowledge, Nichols indicated she thought Taylor got a job hosting ESPN’s pregame and postgame coverage of the 2020 NBA Finals because she is Black and the network was trying to improve its record on diversity.
“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,” Nichols, who is white, said in audio published by the Times.
“Just find it somewhere else. You are not going to find it from me or taking my thing away,” she said.
Following the Times report, ESPN benched Nichols during 2021 NBA Finals coverage. After a brief 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 failed to reach a contract extension with the network. She joined NBC Sports and was a host and correspondent during the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Disclosure: CNBC parent NBCUniversal owns NBC Sports and NBC Olympics. NBC Olympics is the U.S. broadcast rights holder to all Summer and Winter Games through 2032.
— CNBC’s Steve Kopack contributed to this report