BEIJING NBA playoff games have mysteriously disappeared from Chinese television.
Entertainment programs on Chinese television were suspended last week during a three-day period of mourning for victims of the deadly Sichuan earthquake, including NBA playoff games.
When the mourning period ended, the NBA playoffs returned as the state-run national broadcaster CCTV showed the Western Conference final between the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs. However, subsequent games have not been shown.
"We have followed orders and stopped the NBA broadcast," Jiang Heping, director for CCTV's sport channel, said in Wednesday editions of the Shanghai-based Oriental Sports Daily. "Since the May 12 earthquake, we're careful about the way we broadcast the NBA and the content must match the whole atmosphere."
However, concerns about sports programming following the earthquake did not prevent CCTV's sports channel from showing women's soccer and highlights of track, women's basketball and French Open tennis.
The NBA's office in China offered only a brief statement from NBA China's chief executive officer Tim Chen.
"We are working closely with CCTV to ensure that NBA games and content are appropriate for China and to begin broadcasting as soon as possible," Chen said.NBA basketball is popular in China, although interest has dropped off without the top two Chinese players Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian involved in the playoffs. The injured Yao plays for the Houston Rockets and Yi plays for the Milwaukee Bucks.
BULLS' JOAKIM NOAH GETS PROBATION, FINE: Chicago Bulls forward Joakim Noah accepted a deferred prosecution agreement Wednesday in his marijuana possession case, resulting in six months' probation and a $200 fine.
The former University of Florida star was charged with possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana and for having an open container of alcohol early Sunday in downtown Gainesville, Fla. As a first-time offender, he was eligible for the deferred prosecution agreement, the State Attorney's Office said.
The charges will be dropped in six months if Noah meets the terms of his probation.Noah led the Gators to consecutive national championships before being selected ninth overall in last June's draft by the Bulls. He averaged 6.6 points and 5.6 rebounds in 74 games as a rookie.
POPOVICH CONFIRMS CONTRACT EXTENSION WITH SPURS: Coach Gregg Popovich has signed a contract extension with the San Antonio Spurs.
Popovich confirmed the extension with the defending NBA champions, which runs through the 2011-12 season, before the Spurs' Game 4 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night.
Popovich has led the Spurs and star Tim Duncan to four NBA titles, in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007. Last year, the Spurs swept the Cleveland Cavaliers in four games.
Duncan last fall agreed to a two-year extension with the Spurs that will keep him in San Antonio at least through the 2011-12 season.
The Spurs' title defense is currently on the line. They are down 3-1 to the Lakers in the Western Conference finals and face elimination on Thursday night in Game 5.He has a 632-302 (.677) regular-season record.
HAWKS HIRE SUND AS GENERAL MANAGER: The Atlanta Hawks have hired former Seattle executive Rick Sund as the team's new general manager.
Sund, hired on Wednesday, has worked in NBA front offices for more than 30 years, including stints with Milwaukee, Dallas, Detroit and most recently the SuperSonics.
He spent last year as a consultant for the Sonics after serving as the team's general manager since 2001.
The 56-year-old Sund will replace Billy Knight, who announced on May 7 he is resigning after six years with the Hawks.
Sund inherits a team that ended the NBA's longest playoff drought this year by making its first postseason appearance since 1999. The Hawks lost to Boston in seven games in the first round.