ESPN has named sideline reporter Malika Andrews the host of its new daytime NBA show a month after the network canceled ‘The Jump’ amid controversy surrounding anchor Rachel Nichols’s claims that black colleague Maria Taylor was given coveted assignments to boost diversity.
ESPN will debut ‘NBA Today,’ an hour-long panel show, on October 18 — the day before the start of the 2021-22 season. Andrews will be joined by network NBA analysts Kendrick Perkins, Chiney Ogwumike and Vince Carter along with ESPN senior writer Zach Lowe. ESPN basketball reporters will take part, too. The show will air weekdays from 3-4 ET.
Andrews, 26, joined the network in 2018 and has seen an increasingly visible role in ESPN’s coverage of the NBA. ESPN said Monday her new role is part of a multiyear contract extension, but details were not disclosed.
ESPN canceled ‘The Jump’ in August and and removed Nichols from coverage of the NBA, leaving her future at the network unclear. Nichols, well-known as a basketball studio host and reporter, hosted the daily basketball show for five years.
Her status at ESPN had been shaky in recent months since a year-old tape leaked in which Nichols said the network promoted Taylor to host the coverage of the 2020 NBA Finals in an effort to promote diversity.
Taylor, who is black, left ESPN in July when her contract expired and immediately joined NBC to work on its coverage of the Tokyo Olympics.
Nichols addressed the cancelation of ‘The Jump’ on Twitter last month.
‘Got to create a whole show and spend five years hanging out with some of my favorite people talking about one my favorite things,’ she said, peppering her sentence with heart and basketball emojis. ‘An eternal thank you to our amazing producers and crew – The Jump was never built to last forever but it sure was fun. More to come…’
ESPN did not say whether Nichols will appear on the network again or whether she will sit the remainder of her contract on the sidelines. The Washington Post reported her contract expires in 2023.
‘We mutually agreed that this approach regarding our NBA coverage was best for all concerned,’ said Dave Roberts, who oversees NBA production, in a statement released by ESPN. ‘Rachel is an excellent reporter, host and journalist, and we thank her for her many contributions to our NBA content.’
Taylor had been with ESPN since 2014, beginning as a college analyst and reporter. She later added duties as a reporter for College GameDay and ABC Saturday Night Football, then began hosting NBA Countdown.
Over the summer, Taylor, herself, became the story, first as news leaked that she and ESPN were millions of dollars apart on contract talks, with ESPN reportedly offering $2 million to $3 million a year and Taylor asking for $8 million.
Then, in August, the Times shared videotaped remarks Nichols made about Taylor a year ago.
Nichols reportedly wasn’t aware she was being filmed when she said the following:
‘I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball,’ Nichols said while speaking to Adam Mendelsohn, a longtime adviser of LeBron James. ‘If you need to give her more things to do because you are feeling pressure about your crappy longtime record on diversity — which, by the way, I know personally from the female side of it — like, go for it.
‘Just find it somewhere else. You are not going to find it from me or taking my thing away.’
Nichols apologized to Taylor and the network on a following episode of ‘The Jump.’ Nichols has hosted that show since 2016. She returned to the network that year after working for ESPN from 2004-13.
Nichols was taken off coverage of the NBA Finals this year and replaced by Andrews following the report.Internet Explorer Channel Network