Veteran reporter and commentator Jackie MacMullan is retiring from ESPN. The network made the announcement Wednesday morning.
There aren't enough superlatives to describe Jackie MacMullan and what she's accomplished.
The pioneering and HOF journalist is retiring from ESPN. Her final show is Aug 31 on @AroundtheHorn, which she has been part of since the week ATH debuted in 2002. https://t.co/03Aupr6pbn pic.twitter.com/oMmd7b8mVa
— bill hofheimer (@bhofheimer_espn) August 18, 2021
MacMullan has been with ESPN full-time since 2008, contributing reports and analysis across the network’s programming, including being a regular panelist on Around the Horn. She also wrote many in-depth features on the NBA for ESPN.com, including Dwyane Wade’s influence on rising Utah Jazz superstar Donovan Mitchell and the last correspondence between Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. (In a 2019 New Yorker profile, MacMullan called the series “the most important thing I’ve written.”)
She also focused on mental health issues that NBA players — and Black athletes, especially — have dealt with in recent years, notably coping with depression and concerns about their respective communities.
“I feel fortunate to have collaborated with so many incredibly talented people during my 10-plus years at ESPN,” MacMullan said in the network’s official release. “Sometimes you just know when you’re ready to dial it back, and this is the right time for me. I’m grateful for the memories, but especially for the friends I’ve made along the way. Thank you to my ESPN colleagues for all of your support.”
In a profile earlier last May for Boston.com, MacMullan explained what she enjoyed most about her work at ESPN:
“‘For the last six years or so, give or take, I really just write about basketball now, really just the NBA even. To me it felt like coming back home a little bit, I made my bones there – got to know all these amazing athletes who shared their confidences with me.
“‘That’s why I’m on ESPN — not because they thought, ‘She’d be awesome on TV.’ No, they read my stories and thought, ‘She seems to know people, so maybe we could use her.’’”
Prior to joining ESPN full-time (where she had already been contributing reporting and analysis, while appearing on shows like The Sports Reporters), MacMullan had an accomplished career at the Boston Globe.
Beginning as an intern in 1982, MacMullan went on to cover the Celtics and eventually became a general sports columnist, the first woman to ever hold that position at the paper. During her 25-plus years at the Globe, she also covered the NBA for Sports Illustrated. MacMullan took a buyout from the paper in 2008.
Additionally, she co-authored autobiographies with Larry Bird, Shaquille O’Neal, and Geno Auriemma, and wrote a book about the Bird-Magic Johnson rivalry, When the Game Was Ours.
During her pioneering career, MacMullan has also been honored by the Associated Press for her reporting and feature writing. In 2019, she received the PEN/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing — again, the first woman to earn that distinction. That same year, the Association for Women in Sports Media honored her with its Mary Garber Pioneer Award.
MacMullan joined The Ringer last year to host a narrative podcast and appear across the outlet’s network of shows, including The Bill Simmons Podcast, The Ringer NBA Show, The Ryen Russillo Podcast, and The Book of Basketball. No word yet on whether or not she will continue to appear on The Ringer’s podcasts.
[UPDATE: According to the Boston Globe’s Chad Finn, MacMullan will continue contributing to The Ringer and is currently working on a podcast project there.]
MacMullan will appear on Wednesday’s (Aug. 18) edition of The Jump. Presumably, her retirement from ESPN will be part of the discussion in addition to current NBA news. Her final appearance on ESPN programming will be on Around the Horn Tuesday, Aug. 31.