After the Lakers won the championship last year, I watched the news coverage of the street celebrations that took place on the Eastside. I decided that day, that if the Lakers won the NBA crown once again, this time I would witness the street celebrations firsthand from the “Belly of the Beast.”
Due to my inabilty to handle the stress of watching the game live,..I set my DVR to record and took an extended walk around my East L.A. neighborhood to bask in the energy that hung in the air. The heat of sports passion was already high, thank to the earlier soccer heroics of “El Tri” in the World Cup. The sun was setting fast by the 4th quarter and smell of impending victory and carne asada was intoxicating.
House to house, TV sets blared, punctuated by hoots, hollers and claps. the sounds of excitement echoed across the deserted Eastside neighborhoods.
I made my way to the Kmart/Target shopping center where the police had begun to station themselves and install road blocks to cut Whittier Bl. off to cross to traffic. I could tell that this time there would be a prepared show of force to keep any street celebrations to a minimum.
I got back to my parents house to watch the final seconds of the game tick away, and a collective roar of celebration arose from the East Los soul as houses emptied and revelers took to the streets. Our Lakers were champions once again!
We then proceeded, video camera in hand, to navigate Whittier Blvd. on foot. Beginning at Gerhart Ave., heading west towards Atlantic Ave…..