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Tens of Thousands Celebrate NBA Champion LA Lakers


Tens of thousands of fans filled the streets of Los Angeles Thursday as they celebrated the L.A. Lakers' 15th National Basketball Association championship. The celebration took place as planned, despite worries over its cost and possible trouble.

More than 100,000 cheering fans lined the parade route and more than 80,000 others filled the Los Angeles Coliseum, the site of a boisterous victory rally.

Dignitaries, including the city's mayor and Lakers' coach Phil Jackson, rode the parade route atop double-decker buses. Team stars, including Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher, waved to fans along the route, and Fisher later thanked fans at the rally. "This is the best city in the world to be a champion. It's a city of champions. We love L.A," he said.

The Lakers beat the Orlando Magic 99-86 in game five of the N.B.A. finals in Florida Sunday.

Bryant, named most valuable player in the finals, told the hometown fans to expect more N.B.A. titles. "We want to do this thing again and again, so you know, we'll be back next year ready to go," he said.

There were worries about possible violence after fans vandalized businesses and cars Sunday outside Staples Center in Los Angeles, as they celebrated the Lakers' title-winning game in Orlando.

Los Angeles officials, facing a budget crisis, also worried about the $2 million price tag. Wealthy donors stepped in to help, and a heavy police presence ensured the celebration came off as planned.

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