I was flush with pride Sunday as our hometown Lakers claimed yet another NBA title.
(We Win! Let The Jackass Rodeo Postgame Celebration Begin!)
Having now lived here in Los Angeles fulltime for about 10 years, I felt compelled, like all other locals living in
Santa Monica Manhattan Beach Beverly Hills Hollywood Pasadena Culver City Malibu East L.A. and Compton, to descend on downtown after the game and participate in the glorious *celebration* commemorating the occasion.
(Now rooting for another Kobe # change?)
I arrived at the new L.A. Live entertainment district, which is adjacent to Staples Center, just as the game ended. The streets, largely closed off around the arena, were empty at that time except for a smattering of stone-faced, riot-geared LAPD.
I was expecting to see hundreds of police, but instead, there were only a couple-three dozen stationed in the area. (Uh-oh.)
When the game ended, fans started to stream out of ESPN Zone and the other restaurants and bars in the area. The police initially attempted to prevent all bystanders from congregating near Staples and/or L.A. Live, ringing off the area. At that time I was told by an officer to just keep moving and that there weren’t going to be any crowds allowed downtown. (Yeah right.)
(No congregating allowed! Oh, wait)
But about 10 minutes later the vastly outnumbered officers gave up on that idea, as thousands of fans swarmed the Staples Center main entry plaza.
(I order you to disperse immediately!)
Several camera crews got the bright idea at that time to approach and attempt to film gangs of people celebrating. (Sorry, couldn’t resist the pun.) But when they were spotted, they were quickly overrun and forced into frantic retreat behind the police line on Figueroa Ave.
(Where were the camera crews when we really needed them?)
The celebration was actually civil as I snapped shots for an hour, daylight waning. But based on the reports of the ugliness that ensued later that night, I was lucky I exited when I did.
(N.C. State was dropped for these guys)
The police, while doing an admirable job of controlling the criminals that later descended the scene, appeared to be undermanned when I was in attendance. I’m assuming dozens more officers fell out when the violence and mild destruction heightened.
(If only WWE had counter-programmed the TV postgame show)
The scene was a lot worse in 2000, when police cars and TV trucks were burned by *fans* downtown after the Lakers’ league triumph. I was in normally well-buffered Santa Monica at that time, and remember the scare of rioters even extending to that affluent area. All is quiet though on the Westside tonight. I live in Venice, just south of SaMo, and there’s been no sign of lawlessness. Unless you count “Medical Kush* outlet on the Venice Boardwalk.
(You’ll be hearing from Jack’s lawyer in the morning. And Paramount Pictures)
So there you have it, a boots-on-the-ground postgame riot report from Lakerland.
As for the the game, I don’t have anything to add that you won’t hear 10,000 times across sports media today. (Hello Sirius-XM’s “Fred” Channel! Or was it “The Loft”?)
Except that I’m happy Kobe finally won one without Devean George.