Rachel Nichols

ESPN reporter Rachel Nichols stands on the court before a game between the Houston Rockets and the Dallas Mavericks at The Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on July 31, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images/TNS)

After a year frozen behind the scenes and a month frozen in public, ESPN went ahead with the inevitable. Rachel Nichols will not cover the NBA for the network, and her flagship show “The Jump” has been canceled.

The moves were first reported by Sports Business Journal.

Nichols’ days at the network have probably been numbered since her comments about Maria Taylor were reported by the New York Times in early July, just before the NBA Finals began.

ESPN eventually pulled Nichols from her sideline reporting gig during the Finals, but she still had the daily show.

Nichols’ recorded complaints about how the network had handled her and Taylor caused reverberations within the company for a year before they went fully public. Speaking on the phone while her remote studio was (unknown to her) still recording, Nichols vented about ESPN management’s long-documented sexism and strongly implied that Taylor was getting a chance to host the 2020 Finals because she was Black. She was speaking on the phone to Adam Mendelsohn, a PR operator and advisor to LeBron James.

“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 said of Taylor. Just find it somewhere else. You are not going to find it from me or taking my thing away.”

Many Black ESPN employees were both disturbed by what Nichols said about Taylor and that ESPN declined to punish Nichols over it, according to the Times. Taylor has since departed for NBC Sports.

“We mutually agreed that this approach regarding our NBA coverage was best for all concerned,” ESPN said in a statement to Sports Business Journal. Nichols reportedly has a year remaining on her contract; ESPN would not comment on how that year would play out.

Executive David Roberts took over ESPN’s NBA coverage earlier this month, and the Nichols moves were among his first public-facing changes.

Nichols, a veteran sports journalist, had hosted The Jump and been an NBA sideline reporter for the network since 2016. She had an earlier stint with ESPN from 2004 to 2013.

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