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Lakers Celebrate Victory in the Streets with Mayor and Fans - 2002-06-15

Los Angeles Lakers star Shaquille O'Neal declared Los Angeles the new capital of California, and the mayor declared the city the sports capital the world.

Hundreds of thousands of fans filled the streets of Los Angeles Friday to celebrate the Lakers win of the national championship. The Lakers beat the New Jersey Nets Wednesday in game four of the finals, earning their third consecutive title.

Shaquille O'Neal, the Lakers center named the finals' most valuable player, spoke at a rally with the mayor at city hall.

"I want to thank you all for coming out," he said. "This is my good friend, Mayor Hahn. He's agreed to make me mayor for 30 seconds, and I've got one thing to say. Sacramento will never be the capital of California. Los Angeles is the capital of California. You tell them I said that."

In Sacramento, Governor Gray Davis stayed away from the rivalry between the two California cities that had vied for the chance to play in the national finals. But getting into the spirit, the governor declared Friday Los Angeles Lakers Day throughout California.

At Los Angeles City Hall, Lakers star Kobe Bryant thanked the fans for their support over three winning seasons.

"I told you all, we were going to go back to back to back. We told you all," he said. "Ain't nobody stopping us, hear?"

Many fans dressed in the Lakers' colors of purple and gold and some carried signs looking forward to win number four next year.