There were figurative fireworks in the streets of Downtown Los Angeles and real ones in the skies overhead Sunday night as Laker fans did something they haven’t done in 10 years: celebrated a title.
Several thousand Los Angeles Lakers fans gathered near the Staples Center, the franchise’s home arena, to celebrate the NBA championship that the team won against Miami in an NBA Finals Game 6 blowout in the Orlando-area playoff bubble.
Los Angeles police reported up to 80 arrests were made, mostly for failing to disperse, but officers and SWAT teams eventually fired non-lethal projectiles (rubber bullets, beanbag rounds) into the crowds.
The celebration began peacefully with fans chanting “Kobe!” in honor of late Lakers icon Kobe Bryant.
But in the later hours, local news station KABC reported that fans were throwing rocks and bottles at officers while another station, KCAL, showed fans setting off fireworks in the street as others did dangerous “donuts” and tire burnouts in their vehicles amid bystanders.
A tweet showed an orange city bus with graffiti sprayed across the outside, fans on top of it and the seats on fire.
There was some looting with at least three stores being vandalized and damaged. California Highway Patrol blocked downtown freeway off-ramps to control the crowd’s growth.
“As we cheer our @Lakers’ 17th championship, please remember it’s still not safe to gather in groups,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted earlier Sunday. “Let’s honor our city’s triumph by protecting others and making sure we don’t spread the virus. Please celebrate safely at home. Do not gather at Staples Center. Thank you!”
TMZ reported Monday morning that Lakers officials and officials for the City of Los Angeles had decided the team will have a parade…eventually. While no date has been set, the schedule will be influenced by COVID restrictions and safety measures, of course.
A celebration parade ‘bubble’ would be a little hard to pull off.