Looting and vandalism in Los Angeles that broke out in the aftermath of the Lakers' title win over Orlando won't keep the city from celebrating the team's victory.
City officials and the Lakers are planning a victory parade for tomorrow they hope will overshadow unrest the police chief blames on a mob of "knuckleheads."
Police were reviewing security video and media images yesterday to identify suspects who caused damage in the downtown area the night before. Police Chief William Bratton said many known gang members were in the crowd.
"These knuckleheads seem to really relish their opportunity in the dark," Bratton said.
City officials were meeting yesterday afternoon to plan for security along tomorrow's parade route and a rally to be held at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the Lakers and the city will kick in about $1 million apiece for the party. Citing the city's financial crisis, unions representing police, traffic officers, street and sanitation workers demanded the Lakers or other private groups pay for it.
Bratton didn't know how much the parade would cost, but he said the team and members of the business community planned to provide financial assistance. The cost will depend on the number of city workers needed.
Trouble erupted Sunday night in the area around the Staples Center, the Lakers' home arena, even though the team won its 15th title in Orlando. The Lakers beat the Magic, 99-86, in Game 5 to take the series.
Street celebrations that began peacefully turned ugly. Fires were set, objects were thrown at police officers, several businesses were looted, and buses, police cars and other vehicles were vandalized. Hooligans hurled rocks through the window of one bus abandoned under an overpass.
Eight police officers were injured, and 18 people were arrested Sunday night.
* The deadline for underclassmen who had declared for the NBA draft but did not hire agents to withdraw was yesterday. Thus, Kentucky guard Jodie Meeks is taking his long-range game to the NBA. Luke Harangody decided to return to college for his senior year and a chance to become the leading scorer in Notre Dame history.
Wake Forest point guard Jeff Teague, Gonzaga forward Austin Daye and Texas A&M forward Chinemelu Elonu were also among the notable players who chose to remain draft-eligible.
Maryland guard Greivis Vasquez and Georgia Tech power forward Gani Lawal joined Harangody in withdrawing their names and will return to school.
* Agent Lon Babby told the Orlando Sentinel that Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu will opt out of his contract and become a free agent in 2 weeks. *