The Los Angeles Lakers’ Game 6 victory against the Miami Heat got Laker Nation a little bit too excited after successfully giving the franchise its long-awaited 17th title. Chants of “Kobe, Kobe” were also heard from fans who paid tribute to the late Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash back in January.
In celebration of their latest championship, a group composed of more than 2,000 individuals converged near Staples Center and was allegedly involved in activities including vandalism, unlawful assembly, and failure to disperse, according to the Los Angeles Police Department as written by Los Angeles Times.
The incident was marred by a standoff between police in riot gear and people on the street – some without masks despite the ongoing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. The entanglement got at least 76 people arrested in downtown Los Angeles while injuring eight cops in the process.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore took to Twitter to urge fans to “celebrate responsibly,” but reports of vandalism and firecrackers began pouring in as the night wore on. A Metro bus was briefly set ablaze and a Starbucks store was also ransacked near Los Angeles’ 9th and Flower streets.
Steve Soboroff, a member of the civilian Police Commission that oversees the LAPD, also tweeted, writing that “#realLakerfans” don’t vandalize stores or attack police officers. “Disrespectful to @Lakers past and present,” he wrote.
In the aftermath of the chaos, the Lakers’ championship squad also recently returned to Los Angeles Monday after more than three months of living in the Orlando bubble campus to prevent the spread of the virus while also continuing playoff action. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Lakers’ victory parade to commemorate their latest championship will most likely not happen this year.