It was to be expected. After the drama around Rachel Nichols’ leaked video, in which she complained about Maria Taylor getting “her spot,” resurfaced before last season’s Playoffs, we knew the most likely outcome is Nichols leaving ESPN. The only question was – how will it play out?
To remind you, Nichols was secretly recorded expressing frustration about Maria Taylor hosting the Playoffs show during the Orlando Bubble. Nichols believed the move happened because ESPN was “feeling pressure about your crappy longtime record on diversity.” According to reports, her contract specifically stipulated Nichols was to host the NBA Playoffs show, yet she got demoted to the sidelines.
Then a year later, news broke that Taylor and the rest of the cast (Jalen Rose, Jay Williams, and Adrian Wojnarowski) threatened to quit the show if Nichols were to be a part of it. ESPN was in a Mexican standoff – Taylor had the support of other employees and the sympathy of the media and the public, Nichols had them on secretly recording and spreading that recording via ESPN servers through the company. The decision was made to remove Nichols from Playoffs coverage, finish the job, and clean house when the dust settles.
What’s the end result? Maria Taylor left the company, and Nichols has been taken off the air. Somehow, the only people we do not hear anything about are the folks making decisions at ESPN. Talk to any former employee, and they’ll tell you the key decision-makers never seem to be responsible – go figure. Shortly after it was announced Nichols was taken off the air and The Jump has been canceled, she posted this tweet.
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. 😎— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) August 25, 2021
More to come… pic.twitter.com/FPMFRlfJin
Everyone started to speculate about the “more to come…” part. While some think/hope this means Nichols is angry and ready to air some dirty laundry about ESPN, the fact she had a strong legal case for leaking her secret recording probably means she got a nice check from Disney to leave in peace. The “more to come..” part is more likely a hook for an announcement about her next project/employment.
Her legacy at ESPN will firstly be remembered as the host of The Jump. The problems with the show were not Nichols-related – they were ESPN-related. Same as their Playoffs shows, ESPN forces their talent to rehearse short snippets to fill time between commercials. They don’t give people time to express a thought or argue over an interesting basketball topic. That’s why The Jump won’t be very missed (apart from a few interesting segments).
First, Max Kellerman left First Take, and now Nichols and The Jump are canceled. It will be interesting to see ESPN’s next move and then switch over to Inside the NBA.