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Tuesday, 20 June, 2000, 11:17 GMT 12:17 UK
Basketball hooligans mar LA glory
Bonfire and Lakers fans
Celebrations turned violent around street bonfires
LA Lakers fans celebrated their team's first National Basketball Association (NBA) championship victory in 12 years by going on the rampage in downtown Los Angeles.



It takes away from what happened here tonight

Magic Johnson
Scores of people set on fire two police cars and a TV news van after the Lakers' 116-111 victory over the Indiana Pacers at the new Staples Centre stadium on Monday night.

Police on foot and horseback moved in to disperse the rioters, using batons and rubber bullets.

The rioters, some flashing gang signs, pelted police with bottles and lit fires on the streets.

Big screen

About 10,000 people had gathered peacefully to watch the game on a giant screen outside the Staples Centre.


A police car burns outside LA's Staples Centre
A police car burns outside LA's new sports arena
The cars parked nearby were torched as the crowds lit bonfires after the game.

Another 20,000 fans were trapped inside the arena for more than two hours. Players were escorted out by police cars.

Reports say at least 12 people suffered minor injuries and there were 12 arrests.

Vandals smashed shop windows, damaging eight cars at a car dealership, and a computer store was looted.

Glory and sadness

Lakers' vice-president Magic Johnson, who played in the 1988 NBA championship, condemned the violence.


Kobe Bryant celebrates victory
Lakers' Kobe Bryant celebrates inside the Staples Centre
"That takes away from what happened here tonight," he said.

Mayor Richard Riodan said: "There was glory tonight and there was sadness."

There have been violent outbreaks after championship finals in football and basketball in recent years in the cities of Denver and Chicago.

Live television pictures showed scenes of vandalism for up to a quarter of an hour before police intervened.

An LAPD spokesman said officers did not just let things happen, but had to formulate a plan before moving in.

"We don't just rush in there," Officer Jason Lee said.

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