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Rachel Nichols' ESPN Show Is Canceled After Her Comments About Maria Taylor

Rachel Nichols has been removed from NBA coverage on ESPN and her show <em>The Jump</em> was canceled.
Michael J. LeBrecht II
NBAE via Getty Images
Rachel Nichols has been removed from NBA coverage on ESPN and her show The Jump was canceled.

ESPN has removed Rachel Nichols from NBA coverage and has canceled her show The Jump, the network confirmed Thursday.

This comes nearly two months after Nichols' remarks became public in which she suggested that Maria Taylor was promoted because she is Black.

"We mutually agreed that this approach regarding our NBA coverage was best for all concerned," David Roberts, ESPN's senior vice president of production, said in a statement. "Rachel is an excellent reporter, host and journalist, and we thank her for her many contributions to our NBA content."

In early July, The New York Times reported on a recording of a conversation involving Nichols, an ESPN reporter. In the July 2020 recording, Nichols, who is white, is heard suggesting that Taylor got her job hosting the marquee program NBA Countdown during the NBA finals because she is Black.

"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 in the recording. "Just find it somewhere else. You are not going to find it from me or taking my thing away."

She was speaking with NBA star LeBron James' longtime adviser Adam Mendelsohn and James' agent Rich Paul.

Nichols was removed from her assignment after the comments became public.

She later apologized on The Jump, saying she respected her ESPN colleagues and noting that she was "deeply, deeply sorry" for "disappointing those I hurt, particularly Maria Taylor."

Taylor left ESPN shortly after the comments were revealed, in part over failed salary negotiations. She joined the team at NBC Sports just in time for the Tokyo Olympics.

After Taylor reportedly requested $8 million pay last year to be in line with some of ESPN's highest-paid personalities, the network offered her approximately $5 million, which she rejected.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Arielle Retting is a growth editor for digital content at NPR. In her current role, she helps the newsroom develop digital skills so NPR can expand our storytelling to meet our audiences where they are.