10.11.20 | Los Angeles, CA | 10 PM PDT | Staples Center DTLA
L.A. Laker Fans Celebrate NBA Title Outside of Staples Center - 4K
Devoted Laker fans gathered in front of the Staples Center in the heart of Los Angeles tonight, celebrating the sixth-game finale of the National Basketball Association's 2020 championship game against the Miami Heat, winning 106-93.
The main crowd initially gathered between the L.A. Live entertainment complex and Staples Center on S. Figueroa Street, but fireworks and multitudes of parading vehicles' incessant horns were blaring far beyond, all through the night. City officials had called for the area to remain vacated, due to Covid-19 safety limitations, but Laker fans poured into the streets from every direction, not to be denied, even though the LAPD closed off freeway exits into the downtown area.
Under normal circumstances, the NBA finals would have been viewable inside the Staples Center, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic contagion concerns, this season's last game played out in Orlando, Florida's nearly deserted Walt Disney World arena instead, under strict quarantine restrictions of players, coaches, and media.
Chants of, “KOBE! KOBE!” along with car horns and hoarse bellows of jubilation filled downtown Los Angeles at the broadcast sound of the closing buzzer, while marijuana smoke, gunpowder from exploding fireworks, burning rubber from roaring car and truck tires, and the odor of newly scrawled spraypaint created an olfactory overload of epic proportions.
The majority of the celebrations were joyful and nonviolent, while other areas of the city were assaulted with fresh graffiti and a glittering sea of broken glass, some of which had been car windows earlier in the evening. By Monday, the LAPD HQ was reporting 76 arrests, 8 officer injuries, in excess of 30 damaged buildings, and 2 pedestrians injured by police nonlethal munitions.
One L.A. metro city bus was engulfed by a crowd who covered it in pithy spray-painted exclamations before destroying its windows, exterior, and reportedly attempting to set it ablaze - a riotous exhibit of senseless destruction. Meanwhile, a celebrant engaged in setting off fireworks in the street near Staples was reported to have sustained a serious hand injury; LAFD paramedic response was significantly delayed by snarled traffic and people-packed streets.
Laker teammate Anthony Davis was quoted in the L.A. Times, responding to threats of violence, "...But it's a basketball game. People are emotional, fans are emotional. I hope they don't take it [resorting to violence] that seriously. I hope they are that passionate about voting or getting justice for these people who deserve justice or get some better change along in the country."
Cohorts of uniformed anti-riot law enforcement personnel gathered at strategic intersections near the Staples Center and elsewhere, often more of a visual deterrent than an actual interruption of the irrepressible demonstrations of delirious victory unfolding everywhere. As the evening wore on and tempers frayed, however, the LAPD Mounted Unit rode their horses into the street crowds, dispersing them handily, while elsewhere riot control teams fired nonlethal weapons at unruly revelers in the streets downtown [27:37].
The celebrations were especially emotion-fraught due to the tragic absence of Lakers' revered superstar Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, 13, who died earlier this year in a fog-shrouded helicopter crash in Calabasas, CA, en route to Gianna's youth basketball playoff games.
The 2020 Lakers' roster had vowed to capture their seventeenth championship for their missing teammate and mentor/hero, and tonight they accomplished that feat. Ten years earlier, the Lakers brought home the 2010 NBA championship as well, that time with Kobe Bryant leading the charge of his final NBA title.
Now, with Lebron James picking up the crown that Kobe left empty, L.A. can exult with yet another historic NBA championship in their enduring claim to fame.
As for the effect of this stellar accomplishment on pandemic-ravaged Los Angeles and beyond, perhaps the adage flashing across winning Laker photos projected from an LED video wall above the crowds summed it up best:
"In a year unlike anything, this win means everything."
#LAKERS #LAKERNATION #STAPLESCENTER #LALAKERS #KOBEBRYANT #LEBRONJAMES #ANTHONYDAVIS #2020NBACHAMPS #KINGJAMES #GIGI #RIPKOBE #BLACKMAMBA #KOBE
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