Fans gave the NBA champion Lakers a big ovation in downtown Los Angeles. People hit the streets early Monday morning to see their favorite players in a two-mile parade.
Not long after the sun came up, Dexter Wallace and his girlfriend arrived in downtown L.A. from Anaheim.
“We had to kind of circle around a little bit, and then found a spot, and we just camped out here," Wallace said. "It’s nothing we hadn’t done before.”
Wallace joined thousands of other die hard Lakers fans near Pico and Figueroa – not far from Staples Center, where the parade began. The day started with folks wrapped in blankets under a gloomy, cool sky, but later they put away the wraps to reveal a sea of yellow and purple under a hot morning sun.
By late morning, fans packed both sides of Figueroa Street, and anticipation soared.
The L.A. Lakers, fresh off Thursday’s 16th championship NBA win, cranked up the momentum as they rolled past cheering fans on a flatbed float. Men put toddlers on their shoulders for a better look.
Other spectators perched on traffic lights for a bird’s eye view. They saw Lamar Odom with a wide smile; Derek Fisher with both arms raised in a patriotic peace sign; Pau Gasol waving.
And then there was MVP Kobe Bryant, kissing the trophy. That moment was a favorite for Roosevelt Spiller of Los Angeles.
“Just the feel of victory, " shouted Spiller. "This was personal. This was personal."
LAPD officers maintained control for the most part, although some disturbances and fights erupted. Police arrested at least nine people.
Unlike last year, when a rally at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum followed, this year’s official celebration began and ended with the parade. But fans kept up their own after-parties along Figueroa for most of the afternoon.
Police estimated the size of the crowd at 65,000 people.