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Police prepare for problems if Lakers win Sunday night

June 12, 2009 |  1:56 pm

Los Angeles police are preparing for the possibility of rowdy celebrations if the Lakers win the NBA championship Sunday in Orlando, Fla.

On Thursday night, an enthusiastic crowd rushed to a major intersection in East Los Angeles to celebrate the Lakers' 99-91 win over the Orlando Magic, rocking vehicles as they cheered. Authorities arrested two people.

“We will be prepared for any eventuality. We will have enough people to deal with anything that comes up,” said LAPD Capt. Blake Chow.

In 2000, after the Los Angeles Lakers won their first NBA title in 12 years -- with a 116-111 Game 6 victory over the Indiana Pacers -- fans watching the game outside Staples Center began rioting, torching police cars and leaving more than 70 cars damaged, many at nearby auto dealerships. The vandals also destroyed a news van and several trees, causing an estimated $500,000 to $700,000 in damage to businesses in the area. At least 11 people were arrested, and a dozen others were injured.

Los Angeles Police Department commanders said they would be ready if necessary to hit the streets in large numbers, as they want to avert a repeat of 2000.

Chow said that unlike 2000, the game won't be shown at Staples Center -- so there would be no central location for people to gather.

“We have been planning this for some time,” LAPD spokesman John Romero said.

“We’ve planned for this and we’re ready for it," he said, adding, “We don’t anticipate a problem.”

The Sheriff's Department, which handled the problems Thursday night in East L.A., is also preparing.

Plans are in place in the event that "people celebrate exhilaratingly and cross the line of legality,” said spokesman Steve Whitmore of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

-- Ruben Vives and Richard Winton