'Put the fours up!'
Lakers celebrate three-peat, pledge to win a fourthPosted: Friday June 14, 2002 6:11 PM
Updated: Friday June 14, 2002 6:55 PM
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Los Angeles Lakers celebrated their third consecutive NBA title Friday with a triumphant parade and promises to thousands of fans that the team will top its three-peat with a fourth championship next year.
"Put the fours up!" playoff MVP Shaquille O'Neal directed a vast throng outside Staples Center, holding up that many fingers on each hand.
The Lakers battled through a tough seven-game series with the Sacramento Kings to win the Western Conference title, then swept the New Jersey Nets in the NBA Finals. In both series there was clutch play from O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and 3-point wizard Robert Horry.
"This is what I want you to teach your children today," O'Neal declared, stoking the embers of the Kings series. "Sacramento will never be the capital of California. Los Angeles is the new capital of California."
The celebration kicked off at City Hall before the team rolled 10 blocks through downtown past a roaring purple-and-gold crowd that followed them to Staples for a rally. The crowd was estimated at 150,000, said Alex Daez, a police spokesman.
There were no immediate reports of serious crowd problems. Fans were monitored by more than 1,000 police officers who rapidly swept the crowds away afterward.
Temperatures were only in the upper 70s, but about 25 people had to be treated for heat stress, Fire Department spokesman Jim Wells said.
Veteran Lakers play-by-play announcer Chick Hearn, 85, who came back from heart surgery and a broken hip to call the end of the season, presided over the Staples rally.
"You all know that this championship is in the refrigerator. The door is closed, the lights are out, the eggs are cooling, the trophies are being polished -- and the Jell-O is jiggling," Hearn said. "I was thinking during the parade, 'Three-peat is not a bore, but let's go for four.'"
Added Bryant: "Told you all last year we're going back-to-back-to-back. I'll see you all next year."
The crowd chanted, "Horry, Horry, Horry," and the team performed victory rituals, including O'Neal's exhortation, "'Can you dig it," and Mark Madsen's uncoordinated dancing. He also told the crowd in Spanish that they would go for a fourth title.
"Cuatro, cuatro, cuatro, cuatro," the crowd chanted with him.
"Los Angeles is the only city big enough and cool enough for a team as great as the Lakers," Mayor James Hahn said.
Fans camped overnight to get good spots for the Staples rally and lined up early on the parade route. Downtown workers scrambled from their offices at parade time, and fans packed bridges and sidewalks.
The Lakers' "bling dynasty" -- named for the glint off the team's championship rings -- began with a victory over the Indiana Pacers in 2000 and continued with a win over the Philadelphia 76ers in 2001. Friday's newspapers were already looking forward to next year.
"Four-ward ho!" declared one headline. "Fourthcoming?" asked another. "It's Almost Time to Four-Get," proclaimed yet another.