NBA: Lakers get their parade
By John Rogers
LOS ANGELES ó Tens of thousands of jubilant Los Angeles Lakers fans flooded downtown Wednesday, creating a tidal wave of purple and gold as they celebrated the storied franchise’s 15th NBA title with a high-energy parade and rally paid for by the city’s movers and shakers.
People clad in the team colors stood 20 or more deep along the 21/2-mile route from Staples Centerto the packed Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
A convoy of double-decker buses carrying players, coaches and the Laker Girls cheerleaders drew whoops and hollers along the route. Their arrival outside the 95,000-seat stadium brought a huge roar.
“Thank you for all the support, baby. We love you. Let’s go, Lakers,” veteran guard Derek Fisher shouted to fans along the parade route.
Fisher all but ripped the heart out of the Orlando Magic with a pair of three-point shots that sealed a Game Four victory in the NBA Finals. The Lakers needed just one more game to clinch the championship on Sunday.
Letitcia Gutierrez watched the procession squeezed against a chain-link fence separating fans from the buses. She didn’t mind the cramped quarters.
“It’s a great thing to be a part of,” she said. “We got passion and motivation. We’re rowdy.”
Police reported no arrests at the start of the parade, although officers were seen leading at least one rowdy celebrant out of the Coliseum in handcuffs before the team arrived.
Police Chief William J. Bratton said at least 1,700 officers, some in riot gear and others in plainclothes, kept watch on the amped but behaved crowd.
In the days before the parade, Fisher, Bratton and others pleaded with fans to remain well behaved and avoid a replay of the looting and vandalism Sunday night that led to 18 arrests.