Friday, May 30th, 2008 at 11:28 am  |  36 responses

No Soup For You!

China, still mourning the earthquake, bans NBA Playoff games?

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

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.

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  • shakey handle

    sharon stone got banned too

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Alan Paul, the one Slam staffer I know is a diehard Pistons fan. Stay safe over there my man. Good perspective on things as well.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Khalid Salaam

    I gotta say AP, i’m not really feeling your pain here. Granted, i understand that you wanna see the Pistons play in game 7 but you mentioned that there is a radio option. Surely that can suffice right? How is it any different from when the NFL canceled games after 9/11? I guess the Chinese gov’t feels it would be inappropriate to show the games, considering the death toll i see their point. Plus is Rip playing in game 6? Cuz there might not be a game 7 if he’s not anyway.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Rip is a game-time decision. It may be over if he cannot play tonight.

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    Khalid, the difference is that the NFL actually canceled the games, not that they played the games but just didn’t televise them. Just saying.

  • Michael

    hmm, you would think they would ban all ‘entertainment’ television broadcasts going by their reasonings. It is hard to second guess a government dealing with a nation in mourning but it does seem curious to pick and choose what to stop screening. If Yao had made it to the west finals it may have been a different story.

  • http://www.freewebs.com/betcats BETCATS

    if Yao or Yi or even Wang Zhi Zhi was still out their, i doubt this would happen

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ Tariq

    Damn I hate nation-states.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Khalid Salaam

    Lang the facts remain the same. the nfl canceled games because it happened here. so if you were chinese and lived here in the u.s and wanted to see an nfl game that wknd u could not. how is that any different? i’ll tell you how–its not….and micheal, whether it would be different if yi or yao were playing is irrelevant. the fact is that they aren’t playing. so its pretty much a moot and lazy point

  • Michael

    khalid, alan is an american (i assume), living in china and wants to see a foreign game, not the local chinese football league game, so it is totally different to your example. And the yao point is absolutely relevant, had be been featuring the government may have deemed the joy and pride the nation felt would have helped in this difficult time and thus outweighin the ‘entertainment’ factor. To dismiss this as moot and lazy is rather short-sighted.

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    Michael basically makes my point, Khalid. The NFL canceled games because it happened here, you are correct, sir. But think about it this way: I’m a big fan of the English Premier League soccer. So let’s say I was here in New York but I was looking forward to watching a big game taking place in London next week. Then let’s say there was a big earthquake in DC or somewhere, and the American government decided they weren’t going to show the soccer game being played in London on TV.

    Just a weird situation.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Khalid Salaam

    i just dont see it that way

  • Mendel

    Wow, If Alan Paul mentions conspirocy then there is definatley something up. Which kinda sucks.

  • romy

    isn’t the point of sports to distract us from real life for a little while and let us enjoy something?

  • http://nba.com bbfan

    Sharon Stone got banned because what she said was way out of line.

  • Chukaz

    F*ck communism, man. Who the f*ck does the government people think they are? Chuck Norris? Don’t get me wrong the event are pretty sorry and I hope china get better soon. F*CK COMMUNISM!!!!!!!!!

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ Tariq

    Well, I’m not really familiar with Chinese culture. Maybe it’s unacceptable in that society to show sporting events at a time like this. Or it may be the Chinese government on a power trip. I really can’t say. Although I will say this: Guangzhong was the WORST place I’ve ever visited. And I’ve been to remote parts of the Czech Republic.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ Tariq

    What does communism have to do with it?

  • http://www.fotbollskanalen.se John

    Chukaz, you’re being kinda insular right now. It is weird that they cancel the games, but the American gov. wasn’t called communist when the NFL canceled games. Even though it’s not exactly the same situation, as Lang explained regarding the Premiership example.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ Tariq

    Besides, the most malicious government in the world is NOT the Chinese government, which is hella malicious.

  • http://idunkonthem.blogspot.com/ albie1kenobi

    i can’t believe Tariq just use the word “hella”.
    and i didn’t know AP writes for WSJ. that’s bad ass in my book.
    and any time that someone complain that the nba is “too entertaining” is good publicity. i mean, damn americans should stop complaining the spurs/pistons/celtics slugfests are boring! look at the chinese, they can’t watch games coz they are too entertaining!

  • http://slamonline.com apaul

    khalid, I wasn’t really complaiing. te earthquake is a truly awful tragedy for millions of people. I wasin that area lat year and I loved it and the people there were incredibly friendly, welcoming, down to earth. I really have been ups et about all this. If they don’t want to show playoff games on national TV, it’s certainly their right.

    But it sems there could be more going on.

    the radio option is a pretty good one, by the way. Hubie Brown is doing it and there’s something reassuring about that. Only thing I’m really missing is forming an opinion on how much the refs are screwing the Pistons sheed is still a moron to get a T in the 4th quarter of a tight, tight game.

  • http://slamonline.ciom Simone Lawy

    f**k communist, i’ve been there before, inside the china, i was like, omg, what da hell is this place…..

  • starbury&stevey

    its t-mac´s fault…

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ Tariq

    Simone Lawy:

    I don’t prescribe to communism as an idea. Not at all. BUT if you want to form a truly clear-headed worldview, I suggest you start reading up on American hegemony instead of just crying about the big bad Red devil. At least the Chinese government is screwing its own people + neighboring populace, as opposed to screwing everybody in existence.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ Tariq

    F*ck Congress.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ Tariq

    I should have said “subscribe” instead of “prescribe”

  • Chukaz

    F*ck you Tariq and GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ Tariq

    Very intelligent and irrefutable argument. I concede the point.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ Tariq

    See why the monkeys in the new Indiana Jones support the US troops?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Matt Caputo

    “I will not accept it!” – Khalid

  • kevbo

    i’m an expat in asia too…www.myp2p.eu …. just watch ‘em all online

  • http://www.slamonline.com Khalid Salaam

    fair enough alan. curious as to what you think the pistons should do? firing flip is the popular choice but what, if anything, else?

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Alan, no comment on your new, if overdue, logo?

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    One more question for Alan…who is more annoying to root for: the good-but-only-great-once Pistons or the always-bad-but-at-least-not-teasing-you Pirates?

  • http://slamonline.com apaul

    just saw these last comments.. hope ben and khalid are still tuned in.

    1. Love the logo..
    2. flip is gone now, of course. I haven’t seen enough games the last two years to have a strong opinion. Seems like a scapegoat to me. Can you imagine having your fate riding on Rasheed?
    3. I guess they need to keep changing it up. My guess is that Joe d will try to trade Sheed and one other guy. Stuckey needs time but personally I’d hate to see either Billups or Rip go.
    4. Just to repeat: can you imagine if your job security depended on counting on sheed?
    5. I love McDyess. Only guy on that team you always know is gonna strap them on.
    6. Ben, good question. Definitely Pistons over Pirates. Always trying and in the hunt versus total incompetence. Bucs at least have the whiff of some people who know how to do their job running the show now. I’d equate them more with the Steelers.

    Cowher could be infuriating and really nut up in big games. But he had them there every year except two for 15. Incredible achievement in the NFL and i always thought that was better than winning one title then sucking again, ala Tampa bay or someone.