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A Tale Of Two Cities

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1977.

That was the first and last year my Portland Trail Blazers won an NBA title.

I was 6.

Six is also a magic number for the Lakers, who had to wait 6 years for another title, the franchise’s 15. God, these past few years must have been brutal to suffer through…

Last year, I was in NYC when the Giants “shocked the world” – and the Patriots – for the Super Bowl. After the game, I ventured down to Times Square to witness the celebration. A couple days later I shot the parade.

This year, I was in LA when the Lakers broke the back of the Magic and clinched another championship. I wandered down to Staples Center to look for trouble. I wasn’t alone.

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I felt like I was back in college, because there was so much weed in the air. I got a little baked just by second-hand smoke alone.

Only in LA would an Uncle Fester clone not seem out of place. He was a popular dude during the jube.

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The atmosphere in LA was different than in New York. More folks trying to stir up trouble in LA. And even more trying to be there to watch it. Anytime someone would light something on fire, the swarm of fans would advance. When the cops finally arrived, they moved towards them.

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They took their sweet ass time, but the LAPD riot police finally arrived to the party – and in grand style.

Another big difference between the two cities: folks in NYC – especially after 9/11 – they respect the police. In LA, well, there’s more animosity. A lot more.

A small handful of people tried to provoke the cops by throwing fire works in their direction and beer bottles over their heads. I was really impressed with the constraint and discipline they displayed. Because things could have gotten really nasty.

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Everything today seems to be a photo op. Not too long ago, civilians seldom carried a camera. Now, EVERYONE does. And if they don’t, the use their cell phone camera. I seem to have an ever-expanding library of images of people taking their own pictures at sports events.

The police did a great job of breaking up the swarm of people. I know the news reported riot conditions and there were a few arrests, injured cops and damaged property. But my feeling on the street was that it was always on the verge of getting out of control. That no one died – to me – was a small miracle. Just a little too much anger mixed in with a swarm of wildly happy and intoxicated fans.

A lot of people were cut off from their friends as the police directed folks away from Staples. The reported violence happened in the other direction from where I ended up. I was fortunate that my car was a block in front of the police barricades and not a block behind, otherwise I might have spent the entire night on the streets of LA.

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