By Alan Paul

I’ve been struggling to find Playoff games on TV and going a little bit batty. Then I saw a story come across the wires. The headline read, China Takes Playoff Games Off Air. I gulped.

I began to read: NBA playoff games have been taken off air by China’s state television network because they are considered too entertaining for a nation still recovering from the Sichuan earthquake.

I gulped again. The entire story is posted below, but you get the point.

It has been really intense here in China since the earthquake and there are so many people suffering so badly so relatively close to where I am. There are now close to 70,000 dead, over 3000000 injured and millions homeless. I wrote about in my Wall Street Journal column last week. So I’m not going to complain about this inconvenience.

I will say however, that I have been waiting all year for this Eastern Conference Finals and I am a little stunned that I probably won’t actually see any of the games. Then again, to flip it another way, what an extraordinary concept that I could live in Beijing and expect to see all the NBA Playoff Games.

Now, there are still a couple of ways I could see the games. I could set up a Slingbox but don’t want to do that for a whole variety of reasons. Or I could go to a sports bar getting a satellite feed, and probably will if there’s a Game 7, which will be Monday morning here. Friday’s Game 6 is out for me anyhow, because it’s Saturday morning here and I will be coaching my kids’ soccer teams.

While I don’t want to complain about suffering in light of the earthquake, it’s all a little shady. After all, I was at the gym this morning riding an exercise bike and I had my choice of watching Oprah, The Exorcist or Bugsy, which was on HBO Asia and was damn good. I don’t see how any of them were more appropriate than the Spurs/Lakers game I couldn’t see. CCTV Sports was showing a diving competition instead. Again, what’s the difference?

There is a lot of speculation about why the government decided to pull these games, but we’ll likely never know the answer. I hope they do come back for the Finals. In the meantime, I have discovered that pulling up the ESPN GameChannel and listening ot the online radio broadcast is not half bad.

I just wish I could see more of the foul calls that got Rasheed so irate. It’s no secret what teams the League wants to see facing off next week and now that one shoe has dropped, it doesn’t take an X Files buff to smell a conspiracy.


China Takes Playoff Games Off Air

By REUTERS
Published: May 27, 2008

BEIJING (Reuters) – NBA playoff games have been taken off air by China’s state television network because they are considered too entertaining for a nation still recovering from the Sichuan earthquake.

All entertainment in China was stopped last week for three days of national mourning for the victims of the 7.9 magnitude quake that struck the western province on May 12.

State TV sports channel CCTV 5, like most other stations, returned to normal programming last Thursday and showed the Western Conference finals game between the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs on May 22.

But subsequent encounters in that series and the Eastern Conference playoff finals between Detroit and Boston were not shown.

“These games are not in accordance with the atmosphere of the nation after the devastation of the earthquake. They are too entertaining” Jiang Heping, director of the state TV sports channel, told Reuters.

“We did show one game but then we were informed not to continue,” Jiang added.

Basketball is one of the most popular spectator sports in China and NBA games have been shown on CCTV for more than 20 years.

When Chinese exports Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian faced off for the first time in the NBA last November, the television audience for the game between Houston and Milwaukee was estimated to be between 100 million and 200 million.

Jiang said he hoped games would be back on air by the time the NBA championship series starts next month.

The Sichuan earthquake is already known to have killed more than 67,000 people and injured nearly 362,000 others.