Thousands turn out to celebrate Bulls' sixth title
Posted: Tuesday June 16, 1998 02:02 PM
Michael Jordan awaits his turn to address the crowd in Chicago (CNN/SI)|
CHICAGO (AP) -- If this was goodbye for the Bulls, it was a sweet one.
"I do know that my heart, my soul and my love has always gone to the city
of Chicago," Michael Jordan
told the tens of thousands of people gathered Tuesday in Grant Park to
celebrate the team's sixth NBA championship.
"And no matter what happens, my heart and my soul and my love will always
be in the city of Chicago."
Many of the Bulls referred to the season as the team's last together,
reflecting the uncertainty about which players will be back next
"This was our last dance and it was a wonderful waltz," said coach Phil
Jackson, long reported to be ready to take a year off.
The other key to the Bulls' success, Scottie
Pippen, also sounded a note of farewell.
"It's been a great run. Thank you for our last dance," he said.
The raucous fans who filled the park carried banners begging their heroes
to return for another season.
Tens of thousands of fans packed Grant Park for the
victory celebration (AP)|| |
"This is really for the fans who can't afford the $300 courtside tickets
and get to see the players," said Jim Perez of Elmhurst. "Look at the
crowd. It's all kids. This is the people's rally."
Perez arrived at about 3:30 a.m., long before Jordan, Pippen, Dennis Rodman
and the rest of the championship team. Perez joined about 1,000 other fans
who already claimed the coveted seats in the bandshell.
Latecomers sat on the lawn, where police estimated 25,000 people had
arrived by 9 a.m. Most of them wore T-shirts commemorating the Bulls' six
championships or carried signs hailing their heroes.
Gina Philip, 19, of Skokie, held a sign with a picture of Michael Jordan
and "Seventh Heaven" written on it -- a reference to her hopes that owner
Jerry Reinsdorf and general manager Jerry Krause bring the key players back
"I've lived in Chicago all of my life but I've never seen a game. I just
want the chance to see Michael or Scottie or somebody," she said.
"The Jerrys better let them come back. Otherwise, they're going to have a
whole city mad at them," she said.
Police said the crowd was orderly.
But Sunday, in the first three hours after the game ended, Chicago's 911
dispatchers handled 4,368 calls, up from 3,206 last year. Still,
celebration-related arrests fell from 582 last year to 441, and reports of
serious incidents dropped from 144 to 77.
The celebration stood in sharp contrast to the mayhem that followed the
Bulls' early championships. In 1991, more than 1,000 people were arrested,
and looters hit stores across the city after the Bulls won their first