• 55°

NBA: Champions catch heat for parade

Associated Press
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. ó Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Tuesday defended the decision to stage a victory parade for the NBA champion Lakers, saying it’s important to celebrate even at a time of high unemployment and home foreclosures.
Villaraigosa said that some of the city’s wealthiest power brokers have kicked in $850,000 of nearly $1 million in city costs for today’s parade and rally. The Lakers and AEG, which owns Staples Center, are paying for another $1 million in production costs.
TONIGHT SHOW
UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. ó Kobe Bryant is going to visit the “Tonight Show” with Conan O’Brien today.
ARIZA
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. ó Trevor Ariza said he would love to return to the Los Angeles Lakers next season.
The fifth-year forward becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1, along with teammate Lamar Odom, who made $14.1 million this season and turns 30 in November.
Ariza earned $3.1 million this season, and he raised his price considerably during the postseason, when he averaged 11.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists.
One of the lasting impressions Ariza left on Lakers’ management is shutting down Orlando’s Hedo Turkoglu in the Game 5 clincher on Sunday. Ariza turns 24 in late June.
RATINGS
NEW YORK ó Television ratings for the NBA finals are down from last year.
The five games on ABC between the Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic averaged an 8.4 rating. That’s down close to 10 percent from last season’s 9.3 for the six-game Lakers-Celtics series.
LEBRON
LeBron James is making the rounds this summer.
Fully recovered after undergoing surgery two weeks ago to have a benign growth on his jaw removed, the NBA’s MVP is keeping a busy schedule.
On Monday, James and a group of close friends visited President Barack Obama and were given a tour of the West Wing before attending the U.S. premiere of “More Than A Game,” a documentary about the basketball star and his friends’ rise to national champions while playing at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School.
James contributed to Obama’s campaign and first met the nation’s No. 1 hoops fan at a talk show taping last year.
On Tuesday, James and pop music star Rihanna celebrated the opening of the Carol’s Daughter Hand & Foot Spa in New York.

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