Hall of Fame sportswriter Jackie MacMullan announces retirement from ESPN

·3 min read

Hall of Famer Jackie MacMullan, one of the great sportswriters in NBA history and a pioneer for women in the industry, announced her retirement from ESPN on Wednesday, effective at the end of this month.

MacMullan, 60, has worked for ESPN since 2010, primarily as a senior writer and a staple of the "Around the Horn" cast. She has also appeared on "SportsCenter," "Outside The Lines" and "The Jump," among other platforms. She will make her final ESPN appearance on "Around the Horn" at 5 p.m. ET on Aug. 31.

"I feel fortunate to have collaborated with so many incredibly talented people during my 10+ years at ESPN," she said in a statement. "Sometimes you just know when you’re ready to dial it back, and this is the right time for me. I’m grateful for the memories, but especially for the friends I’ve made along the way."

A Division I basketball player at the University of New Hampshire, MacMullan began her 40-year career in 1982 as an intern at The Boston Globe, where she worked until 2008. She was a beat reporter for the Boston Celtics during their glory days in the 1980s and ultimately the newspaper's first female columnist, also covering the New England Patriots dynasty, all four major sports championships and the Olympics.

Isaiah Thomas, Jackie MacMullan, David Stern, Jalen Rose and Earl Monroe (from left to right) attend a screening of
Isaiah Thomas, Jackie MacMullan, David Stern, Jalen Rose and Earl Monroe (from left to right) attend a screening of "Basketball: A Love Story" in 2018. MacMullan co-wrote an oral history based on the docuseries. (Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images)

MacMullan also served as a senior writer for Sports Illustrated from 1995-2000. Familiarly known as Jackie Mac, her work was marked by journalistic ethics, ferocity and compassion. She was the subject of a 2019 New Yorker piece entitled, "Jackie MacMullan Is the Great Chronicler of Basketball’s Golden Age."

MacMullan's collaboration with NBA legends Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, "When the Game Was Ours," became a New York Times bestselling book. She also penned biographies with 15-time NBA All-Star Shaquille O'Neal and longtime University of Connecticut women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma.

As part of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame's Class of 2010, MacMullan became the first woman in history to receive the Curt Gowdy Media Award. She was also the first woman to receive the PEN/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing. The Associated Press has recognized MacMullan with multiple national awards for her investigative reporting and feature writing, and she received The Association for Women in Sports Media's prestigious Mary Garber Pioneer Award in 2019.

"Jackie is a trailblazer not because she was one of the first women covering sports or the NBA. Rather, Jackie is a trailblazer because people talked about her without mentioning sex or gender," ESPN senior deputy editor Cristina Daglas said in Wednesday's news release. "It was about the work, an incredible catalogue of work, that has appeared on every ESPN platform. Simply put, Jackie is one of the greatest journalists ESPN has ever seen. And she did it all while providing mentorship to both editors and writers, ensuring whether she meant to or not, that pieces of her will remain here long after she exits.”

In September 2020, The Ringer hired MacMullan to host a narrative NBA podcast and contribute to other podcasts on the platform. There was no mention of her future with the company in ESPN's news release.

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Ben Rohrbach is a staff writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

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