After backlash released during the NBA Finals, ESPN will now remove Rachel Nichols from all NBA programming. The network will also replace her weekday show “The Jump” with a new program leading up to the NBA’s new season, according the Sports Business Journal. The new show is expected to have a format identical to “NFL Live” which typically airs at 4:00 subsequently to “The Jump”
ESPN’s senior vice president of production David Roberts confirmed the decision:
“We mutually agreed that this approach regarding our NBA coverage was best for all concerned,” Roberts told SBJ in a statement. “Rachel is an excellent reporter, host and journalist, and we thank her for her many contributions to our NBA content.”
For the past week, the Jump was telecasted with Malika Andrews hosting in California. Andrews was a sideline reporter during the NBA Finals and regularly covers the Brooklyn Nets. Andrews, from earlier reports, is expected to emerge as a candidate for NBA Countdown and a more prominent role on ESPN after Maria Taylor’s departure to NBC. “The Jump” will run a few more episodes in the coming weeks — none of which will be hosted by Nichols, but likely Andrews.
Nichols joined ESPN as a reporter in 2004 covering the NFL and NBA. She then left the network for CNN and Turner Sports’ NBA on TNT in 2013 before returning to ESPN in 2016, when she started hosting “The Jump.”
Nichols was the center of controversy earlier this summer, after a storm of events headlined by her comments suggesting that Maria Taylor, who is black, rose to her position at ESPN because of a diversity effort. The scandal had Nichols replaced by Malika Andrews on the NBA Countdown sidelines. The once private comments by Nichols played a vital factor in the decision of her removal. Nichols has more than a year on her contract and is expected to still be paid, but won’t be on-air. She could return to primarily covering NFL, if she isn’t laid off.
Nichols took to Twitter and Instagram to thank ESPN and the people involved in the producing. “Got to create a whole show and spend five years hanging out with some of my favorite people talking about one of my favorite things, [Basketball]. An eternal thank you to our amazing producers and crew- The Jump was never built to last forever but it sure was fun,” Nichols wrote. “More to come…”
The fallout at ESPN is progressing. Most recently with Max Kellerman reported to be removed from First Take since Stephen A. Smith didn’t think he was fit for the debating challenge any longer.