Larry Mantle |

Laker Pride -- Shame of the Vandals

As a 40-year fan of the Lakers, I'm celebrating our city's NBA championship. As a lifelong Angeleno, I'm embarrased and ashamed of the violent and destructive behavior on some on our local streets last night. It was exhilarating to see the outstanding defense the Lakers played in their last game, defending the lane and covering each others' backs. What a quick comedown to scenes of "celebrants" rocking cars, destroying a bus, lighting fires, and injuring police officers. The two areas of greatest trouble were East L. A.'s iconic Whittier Boulevard and near Staples Center.

When I think of Whittier Boulevard I think of the great music and car culture that melded the Mexican and American experiences. I think of my wife Kristen's parents, meeting at Garfield High School, and swapping neighborhood stories with their childhood friends. I think of all the businesses up and down that street representing family investment in the Eastside. I think of an East L. A. that is as true to the spirit of Los Angeles as any neighborhood could possibly be.

Now, I need to take a drive down Whittier to reconnect with the vibrancy of that community, and to clear my mind of the foolish and violent behavior we saw last night. It was unfair to East L. A.'s residents and business owners to create that image for the rest of the country. It may have been only a few hundred people out of thousands of revelers who created the problems, but a group that size can do a lot of damage that's both tangible and to the spirit.

On a heavier note, we'll talk tomorrow about the street protests and clashes in Iran. Seeing the risks Iranians are taking to speak up against their government makes the behavior of destructive Laker fans seem additionally absurd.