LAPD works to keep the peace after Lakers championship win

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Collin Robinson/KPCC

Fans cheer in the middle of the intersection at Figueroa Blvd and 11th St. in Downtown Los Angeles after a Laker victory in the NBA Finals on June 17, 2010

Los Angeles police made at least 40 arrests near the Staples Center following the Lakers’ championship win against the Boston Celtics last night. The LAPD was out in force but that didn’t stop some people from starting trouble.

Not long after fans started pouring out of the Staples Center, Los Angeles Police declared an “unlawful assembly” nearby at the intersection of 11th and Figueroa Streets.

Hundreds of police donned riot gear and formed lines all around the Staples Center, blocking off streets. Fans couldn’t even cross at certain areas. There was some trouble. Within a couple hours after the game, a big scuffle broke out at Flower and 11th streets, people threw rocks and bottles and one car was engulfed in flames.

Police moved people along and dispersed the crowds.

For the most part though, fans weren’t about causing problems. Many simply wanted to celebrate.

They arrived early and hung out at the plaza all afternoon. Some entertained themselves by busting a rhyme. Others talked trash. And some like Lovelle Mason from Brooklyn, New York schooled younger fans about veteran NBA stars who made the game of basketball just as exciting more than two decades ago.

One explanation that might account for the fans' behavior last night is rooted in basic biology. Studies have shown that watching competitive sports leads to increased aggressive behavior and testosterone levels in males.

"Testosterone influences [our] desire to dominate and a feeling of invulnerability," Jeff Victoroff, association professor of neurology and psychology at the University of Southern California, told Patt Morrison today.

"On the one hand it's inexcusable behavior, and on the the other it's absolutely natural and expected," Victoroff said.

Across from the Staples Center, Nokia Plaza and L.A. Live weren’t packed just with fans holding tickets. Lots of people came to watch the game on dozens of TV screens at the ESPN Zone. At times, the cheering sounded like it could have been louder than inside the Staples Center.

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