What happened to ‘The Jump’? Explaining why Rachel Nichols is not on ESPN’s new show ‘NBA Today’

ESPN airs its first episode of “NBA Today” on Monday, a program that is said to provide “in-depth, comprehensive daily coverage of all aspects of the NBA.” 

It sounds a lot like the station’s former NBA show, “The Jump.” Except it isn’t. 

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On Aug. 26, ESPN announced it would cancel its former league talk show, which was hosted by broadcaster Rachel Nichols. Nichols was pulled from the network’s NBA coverage on the same date, a decision that followed a leaked audio tape of hers in which she said controversial remarks about former ESPN reporter Maria Taylor. 

“NBA Today” is now hosted by Malika Andrews, who was named to Forbes’ 2021 “30 Under 30” list for sports, which recognized athletes and sports figures who were “winning on and off the field.” You can watch “NBA Today” on fuboTV, which offers a free seven-day trial.

Why is Malika Andrews replacing Rachel Nichols? 

Nichols, who worked at ESPN in the early 2000s and returned in 2016, hosted “The Jump” — a weekday show covering the NBA — for the last five years, airing more than 1,000 episodes with daily discussions on the league.

She was also prominent within the network’s broader NBA coverage, hosting “NBA Saturday Primetime”, filling in as a sideline reporter and conducting frequent 1:1 interviews with players and coaches. But her duties came into question in July, when an audio tape from July 2020 surfaced that included controversial comments Nichols made toward ESPN regarding former reporter Maria Taylor.

Taylor, who is Black, was selected to host coverage during the 2020 NBA Finals over Nichols, leading her to share her frustration with Adam Mendelsohn — the longtime adviser of Lakers superstar forward LeBron James — and his agent, Rich Paul.

“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world,” Nichols said. “She covers football, she covers basketball. If you need to give her more things to do because you’re feeling pressure about your crappy, longtime record on diversity — which by the way, I myself know personally from the female side of it — go for it.

“Just find it somewhere else. Like, you’re not going to find it with me and taking my thing away.”

After the audio was released, Nichols was removed from the program’s NBA coverage on Aug. 25, shortly before the NBA Finals between the Suns and Bucks.

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Who else is on “NBA Today?” 

Along with Andrews, “NBA Today” will feature former NBA champion Kendrick Perkins, eight-time NBA All-Star Vince Carter, two-time WNBA All-Star and commentator Chiney Ogwumike and ESPN columnist Zach Lowe. 

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Perkins, who signed a multi-year extension to remain at ESPN in May, has appeared on multiple shows in the network, including “The Jump,” “First Take,” “Get Up!” and “Hoop Streams.” Ogwumike, who also plays for the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks, became the first Black woman to host a national daily radio show in 2020 while being a full-time analyst for ESPN.

Carter joined the network in September 2020 and also did color commentary for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Lowe has been recognized for his in-depth writing and podcast work with ESPN. 

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