Laker fans celebrate in LA after title win

June 15, 2009 at 12:55 AM
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LOS ANGELES, June 15 (UPI) -- The partying began immediately Sunday in Los Angeles after the Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic 99-86 to win the 2009 NBA title.

Excited fans climbed onto the statues of Lakers' great Magic Johnson and Los Angeles boxing great Oscar de la Hoya outside the Staples Center and waved their Kobe Bryant jerseys like victory flags, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"I'm so excited, excited, excited," said Louis Merida, 21, a student at the University of California Riverside. "I don't even know what to say! I don't even know what to say! It feels great. No one can hate on Kobe anymore, because he's won a championship without Shaq."

The title is the Lakers' 15th and Bryant's fourth -- his first since winning three straight on a team lead by former Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal from 2000 to 2002.

The Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department had extra officers on duty in case the partying turns sour.

In 2000, when the Lakers took their first title in 12 years, overexcited fans began rioting, doing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage. The casualties included police cars and a news van set on fire, and 70 cars vandalized, including some at car dealerships.

ABC's telecast of Sunday's Game 5 from Orlando, Fla., included a public service message featuring Bryant and Lakers' Coach Phil Jackson reminding fans to celebrate responsibly in the event of an LA victory.

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