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Lakers Celebration Was Necessary
One of the crucial roles professional sports have is uniting a city in catharsis.
In July 1967 the city of Detroit endured riots that claimed 43 lives and injured 467. In addition 7,231 people were arrested while damages estimated from $40 million to $80 million (not adjusted for inflation). In 1968 when the Detroit Tigers faced the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series, the city came together to cheer them on to victory.
When looking at images of the crowd Wednesday afternoon, it was moving to see the people. For all the strife people are facing today - economic uncertainty, global instability and a constant bombardment of fear - none of that mattered.
For one day race, gender, age, class, sexuality, political affiliation didn’t matter. The afternoon was about uniting in showing support for a team that gave the fans many moments of excitement since the end of October.
There are very few things in this world that can bring people together like this. Here in Los Angeles the only recent public gatherings that brought people together like this were the 2003 antiwar rallies and the Day without an Immigrant in 2006. The difference with the Lakers is that this was a gathering of happiness rather than protest.
Much had been made of the $1 million price tag for the City of Los Angeles. A lot of people still feel resentment and a sense that a celebration is mere frivolity given the budget crisis in the city. There are teachers that need to be paid, workers that need jobs and essential services that are threatened to be cut.
However that is neither here nor there since the city ended up getting private donors to pick up the tab. The city paid nothing.
In the end the city is still in a fiscal crisis, people are still unemployed, Tehran is still mired in election controversy and all of the world’s ills are still there. But the people of Los Angeles had a few short hours of joy. People still willing to deride that are missing the point.