Lakers fans line parade route to salute team
Hundreds of thousands of screaming, fist-pumping, flag-waving fans saluted the world champion Los Angeles Lakers on Monday during a one-hour parade that left no doubt that expectations for a three-peat are high.
A half dozen arrests and two missing children were the most serious problems reported by police. Authorities did not provide a crowd estimate.
Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Derek Fisher, Andrew Bynum and Ron Artest waved to the crowd from a flatbed truck festooned with purple and gold.
Bryant has five titles, but "this is the best one by far because it was the hardest one to get," he said.
Looking ahead, Bryant told reporters, "When next season starts, we'll be ready, that's for sure."
The parade capped a season that ended Thursday with an 83-79 Game 7 victory over the Boston Celtics and a 16th NBA title for the Lakers.
Artest, the unlikeliest hero during the finals, sported an unlit cigar during the ride he shared with his teammates, family and a lot of newfound fans.
"We have to party for another week, then start putting in the work and write history again next year," he said.
The two-mile toast took the Lakers from Staples Center downtown to the Galen Center at the University of Southern California. Other vehicles in the parade included a fire truck carrying the Laker Girls, and a rig carrying past Laker greats like Earvin "Magic" Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
It took Trisha Siqueiros, 29, and her father, Ron Nieto, 51, two hours to drive to the parade from Indio.
"We saw them for three minutes, but it was worth every minute," Siqueiros said. "The only thing is they should have driven a little slower."
Bernard Hinson, 50, and his eight-year-old son, Aaron, came from Oakland to watch the parade. Hinson said he chose a spot close to the beginning for safety's sake. "Ninety per cent are true Lakers fans. Ten per cent are here to cause trouble," he said.
Police lined Figueroa Street, standing every few feet on both sides of the parade route. Officers in cars and helicopters and on motorcycle and horseback added to the police presence.
Police Chief Charlie Beck held an early morning news conference to caution potential troublemakers. When the Lakers claimed the title Thursday, small bands of people started fires, rocked cars and threw objects at fans and police. No estimate of the damage was ever provided.
"If you're coming here to vandalize, if you're coming here to disrupt, well, then you're going to stay because we are going to put you in jail," Beck said.
The Lakers were footing the bill for the parade.
Along the parade route, one fan hoisted a foam tombstone reading "RIP Boston."
Tickets to playoff games were too expensive for Teresa Howe, 42, of Simi Valley.
"I get to see the players for free," she said. "Twenty dollars for parking doesn't compare to thousands of dollars for Lakers tickets."
She said she enjoyed sharing back-to-back memories with fellow fans. "I'm just as excited this year because it's the second time in a row. I'm looking forward to a three-peat. And I'll be here next year."
Fan Jimmy Baskom, 58, said he took the day off from his job as a window washer in Palmdale because he wanted to see his long time basketball heroes in person. He wore a purple and gold jacket and hat.
"I've been a die-hard fan all my life and I watch every game but this is my first opportunity to see them in person," he said.