Rachel Nichols has landed a new deal with Showtime after a controversial exit from ESPN last year.
The network announced the news in a release on Friday.
“We are delighted to welcome Rachel Nichols to the Showtime Basketball family,” said Brian Dailey, SVP of sports programming & content at Showtime, in a statement. “Rachel brings unmatched journalistic credibility, great familiarity with our roster and a work ethic that will take us to another level.”
Added Nichols: “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. 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.”
Nichols began her career in sports journalism at the Washington Post. She joined ESPN in 2004. After a brief interlude at CNN and Turner Sports that began in 2013, Nichols returned to the ESPN in 2016.
In her latest round there, Nichols hosted “The Jump,” a daily NBA program that was generally acclaimed.
Controversy began swirling in the 2020 NBA bubble, though.
Last year, the New York Times revealed that Nichols was surreptitiously recorded by an ESPN employee during what Nichols believed to be a private phone conversation with Adam Mendelsohn, a longtime advisor of LeBron James and James’ agent Rich Paul.
Nichols was upset that her role hosting the NBA Countdown studio show had been usurped by Maria Taylor.
“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball,” Nichols said on the secretly recorded call in July of 2020. “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 is white and Taylor is black. The fallout from the phone call festered behind the scenes for nearly a year, as Nichols sought to apologize but Taylor declined to have a conversation with her.
After the Times published the call last July, ESPN removed Nichols from its NBA coverage. Several months later, Nichols and the network formally parted ways.
At the time of the parting, The Post’s Andrew Marchand wrote that the fiasco was a result of “embarrassing, indecisive management” at all layers of ESPN.
Taylor has since left ESPN for NBC Sports.