Rachel Nichols Joins Showtime 1 Year After ESPN Controversy
Rachel Nichols is off the sidelines. More than a year after the NBA analyst exited ESPN amid controversy, she is joining Showtime to “contribute to multiple programs and projects from Showtime Basketball across multiple platforms” as host and producer, the premium cabler announced on Friday, September 30.
“I’ve been so fortunate to live my dream job alongside some of the best journalists in the business for more than 25 years, and this new development deal with Showtime Sports gives me my most broad playing field yet,” Nichols said in a statement. “They’ve asked me to produce, create, and host new sports programming across platforms, working alongside Hall of Famers, multiple guys with championship rings, and an uber-creative team behind the camera. We’re going to have so much fun.”
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The veteran sports journalist left ESPN this January amid the fallout of comments she made about former ESPN colleague Maria Taylor. In a recording The New York Times shared in July 2021, Nichols complained about ESPN picking to Taylor to host its coverage of the 2020 NBA Finals. Specifically, Nichols, a white woman, suggested that Taylor got the job because the then-host of NBA Countdownis Black. Following the New York Times report, ESPN took Nichols off its 2021 NBA Finals coverageand canceled her show The Jump.
As part of her new Showtime role, Nichols joined the podcast All the Smoke for Friday’s episode, using the opportunity to reflect on that saga and to express her remorse over how her comments affected Taylor, who has since left ESPN for NBC.
“I feel sorry that any of this touched Maria Taylor,” Nichols said on the podcast, per The Washington Post. “She’s a fellow woman in the business. It’s not her fault what was going on.”
Rachel Nichols talks about leaving ESPN & Maria Taylor
— Shannonnn sharpes burner (@shannonsharpeee) September 30, 2022
Nichols also claimed that ESPN’s human resources department looked into the recording and opted against disciplinary action. “I thought we had put things behind us, and unfortunately there were still some people who had bad feelings and held on to this tape for a year,” Nichols said on the podcast. “Just kept it in their pocket. And when there was a point they wanted some leverage with their own situations they fed it to the press.”
In any case, Showtime certainly seems glad to have Nichols on board. “We are delighted to welcome Rachel Nichols to the Showtime Basketball family,” Brian Dailey, Senior Vice President, Sports Programming & Content, Showtime Networks Inc., said in a statement. “Rachel brings unmatched journalistic credibility, great familiarity with our roster and a work ethic that will take us to another level.”