Officials reported damages and dozens of arrests after the celebration of the Los Angeles Lakers’ first NBA championship in a decade got rowdy in downtown late Sunday.
“Everyone was just overly excited,” downtown resident Hydy Johnson told KTLA the next morning. “I think everything’s going to be OK. Everything is going to get cleaned up just like it has been in the past.”
More than 1,000 fans took to the streets near Staples Center, LAPD estimated, as the L.A. team crushed the Miami Heat with a 106-93 Game 6 victory inside the NBA bubble in Florida.
Fans clad in Lakers gear waved purple and gold flags as some ignited fireworks.
The gathering started peacefully before it turned “confrontational, violent and destructive,” police said.
LAPD said it declared an unlawful assembly after “unruly individuals mixed within the crowd began throwing glass bottles, rocks and other projectiles at officers.”
Only some complied with orders, and many started vandalizing businesses, the department said.
Authorities arrested 76 people on suspicion of vandalism, assault on a police officer and failure to disperse, according to LAPD.
Officers injured at least three people in the crowd after firing “less lethal ammunitions,” police said. The three were taken to the hospital.
Meanwhile, eight officers were hurt and received medical treatment, LAPD said.
More than 30 buildings and establishments sustained damages, along with a Metro bus, according to the Police Department.
Video from the scene near Grand Avenue and Olympic Boulevard shows at least a dozen people on top of a city bus as a small fire burned on one of the seats inside. Among the graffiti that covered the bus read “Kobe” and “Gigi.”
Nearby, a Starbucks location was also vandalized.
Two days before the Lakers victory, L.A. County health officials warned against sports viewing and parties as the region continues to report COVID-19 cases.
Some but not all members of the crowd in downtown wore masks.
On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom described the crowded celebrations as “a point of obvious concern.”
“We just ask people to be cautious, to be mindful at the same time they celebrate this historic victory…” the governor said at a news conference on COVID-19.
More peaceful celebrations followed the late night gatherings.
In Pasadena, people flocked to a sporting goods store to get some merchandise to commemorate the win.
“With everything that’s going on right now in the world … With Lakers winning the championship, it was just a pick-you-up moment,” said one dad holding his small son, both wearing Lakers gear.
Another fan echoed the sentiment and expressed gratitude to the family of Kobe Bryant, who led the L.A. team to its last title in 2010 and died this January.
“We needed this right now,” the fan said of Sunday’ win. “Black Mamba baby, we love you!”