Last month, Maria Taylor left ESPN, weeks after a story published by the New York Times detailed behind the scenes strife at ESPN’s NBA coverage, related to comments Rachel Nichols made about Taylor in her hotel room with a video camera running. Nichols apologized to Taylor on the air, but that didn’t seem to help very much – an episode of The Jump was cancelled, Nichols was pulled from sideline reporting at the NBA Finals, and Taylor still left the company for a job with NBC.
Now, ESPN is going on without Nichols as part of their NBA coverage. Per the Sports Business Journal, the Nichols-hosted show The Jump will be cancelled, and she will be removed from all of ESPN’s NBA coverage. Notably, Nichols is still under contract (for another year-plus), and isn’t expected to be on the air in *any* capacity.
ESPN has taken Rachel Nichols off of all NBA programming and will cancel her weekday afternoon show “The Jump,” the network confirmed today. Nichols was told of the moves this week, sources said. Nichols remains under contract with ESPN — a contract that has more than a year remaining. However, it is unlikely that she will appear on ESPN’s air during that time.
Two weeks ago, ESPN announced that David Roberts would lead all NBA programming going forward, and his first move was certainly a decisive one.
The Jump, which will still be on the air with different hosts over the next few weeks, will reportedly be replaced with a new NBA weekday show in the leadup to the 2021-22 season.
Roberts decided to cancel “The Jump,” which will run for a few more episodes over the next couple of weeks — none of which will be hosted by Nichols. ESPN will launch a new afternoon NBA show in the lead-up to next season, but execs had no firm details on that show’s format or host.
Nichols tweeted the following, shortly after the news broke.
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. ?
More to come… pic.twitter.com/FPMFRlfJin
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) August 25, 2021
Yesterday, ESPN announced (officially) that Max Kellerman would be leaving for First Take, and would also be hosting a new ESPN show. Could that be the rumored new NBA show, or will ESPN ax something else from their lineup to make room for both Kellerman’s show and the NBA show?
It’s somewhat surprising how quickly (and publicly) this all went down. We can make plenty of educated guesses as to who will pick up screen time following the departure of Taylor and the benching of Nichols. Malika Andrews (the sideline reporter for the NBA Finals) seems to be the most popular choice, and Cassidy Hubbarth also seems like a good option.
It’s worth noting that NBA Countdown has seemingly been in a constant state of retooling over the last few years. Back in 2016, Michelle Beadle and Sage Steele shared hosting duties. Then Beadle took over on a full-time basis in 2017. Then Nichols and Taylor shared hosting duties in 2019, with Beadle getting bought out. Now, Taylor’s gone, and Nichols is off the air. That’s a whole lot of transition for one show in five years, not to mention all of the analysts that have cycled in and out of the Countdown set.