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ESPN pulls Rachel Nichols from NBA programming, cancels her show amid controversy

ESPN has pulled veteran analyst Rachel Nichols from its NBA programming and canceled her daily NBA show amid controversy, The Athletic reported.

Nichols shared in a tweet Wednesday that “The Jump” was coming to end after five years on the air, saying there would be more to come from her in the near future. 

“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,” Nichols said in her tweet. “More to come.”

In a statement to the Sports Business Journal, ESPN Senior Vice President for Production David Roberts said both parties agreed to end the show, referring to Nichols as an “excellent reporter, host and journalist.” 

“We mutually agreed that this approach regarding our NBA coverage was best for all concerned,” Roberts said. “Rachel is an excellent reporter, host and journalist, and we thank her for her many contributions to our NBA content.”

The sports network plans to replace “The Jump” with a new NBA-centered show, according to CNBC.

The news comes amid the controversy surrounding Nichols and former colleague Maria Taylor. 

The New York Times published a story in July that included an audio recording of a conversation between Nichols and Los Angeles Lakers superstar Lebron James’s adviser Adam Mendelsohn. During the call, Nichols criticized her company for promoting Taylor, who is Black, to host the “NBA Countdown” show as part of a push for diversity. 

“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball,”  Nichols told Mendelsohn. “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.”

Nichols, who has been an ESPN reporter for 16 years, received swift backlash for her comments and apologized on the air the next day, according to The Athletic. 

Nichols, who is white, was then replaced by Black NBA reporter Malika Andrews as the lead sideline reporter for the NBA Finals coverage. 

Taylor, who spent eight years with the network, left in July to join NBC Sports after her contract expired, The Athletic reported. 

The Hill has reached out to ESPN for comment.

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