CHICAGO -- Hundreds of thousands of basketball fans swarmed Grant Park Tuesday to salute the Chicago Bulls' second straight NBA championship with no recurrence of the violence that marred earlier celebrations.
City officials had expected 1 million revelers and security in the area was tight. Unofficial estimates put the actual crowd size at about 500,000.
There were reports of a handful of people being treated for heat exhaustion on the sunny day with temperatures in the 70s or from the crush of the crowd. There was at least one arrest, police said.
The generally orderly celebration was in stark contrast to the sporadic looting and violence that marked Sunday's victory.
James Lett, a member of the throng Tuesday, criticized the earlier violence.
'I was down on Division (Street) because I work there. It's only a game and they want to use that to provoke riots, get away with things,' Lett said.
Roaming, multiracial groups late Sunday and early Monday looted stores, destroyed cabs and damaged police cars. According to figures updated Tuesday by city officials, more than 1,000 people were arrested and 95 police officers and nearly 200 civilians were hurt. Damage was estimated at $2 million. The Chicago Transit Authority said damage to its equpiment alone could reach $100,000.
Lottery Director Desiree Rogers said $57,000 in lottery tickets were stolen during the melee from 19 vendors. She said, however, the thieves will be disappointed because the tickets are declared invalid as soon as they are reported stolen.
Bulls players praised fans Tuesday in a 30-minute appearance at the Petrillo Band Shell in downtown Chicago, as they did after last year's victory, the first in the team's 25-year history. Several talked of trying to take the championship a third straight time.
However, this year, there was no motorcade from the Stadium to the park because crowds last year nearly overwhelmed the cars.
MVP Michael Jordan said it is thrilling to play basketball in Chicago.
'Thank God you drafted me instead of Portland,' Jordan said to cheers. The Portland Trailblazers, who lost to the Bulls in six games in the championship series, passed on Jordan in the draft, taking Sam Bowie instead.
Scottie Pippen said the fourth-quarter come-from-behind 97-93 victory in the clinching game would not have been possible without the fans.
'I got two things to say,' said Will Perdue, who watched most of the final series from the bench. 'The first time was neat. The second time was one heck of a feat. This time I had one hell of a seat. The third time will be oh so sweet.'
Fans began arriving as early as 3 a.m., eight hours before the rally. Among the early arrivals was one woman who said she didn't want to make the same mistake she made last year by arriving late.
'I couldn't even get in,' she said.
'We wanted a championship. We needed a championship. It was time for one. We had to get one to make us feel better,' said Karen Smith who came out to the Tuesday celebration.
'It's the first time I've seen a winner in Chicago since I moved here,' said one man. 'It makes up for the Cubs and (White) Sox.'