Monday, June 15, 2009

Following Win, Riots Erupt in Iran

TEHRAN, Iran – With the final announcement made, hundreds of thousands took to the Tehran streets to riot in celebration Sunday night following the Los Angeles Lakers NBA title win.

Dozens of fans from the rowdy crowd were arrested after police declared the gathering an unlawful assembly, the police chief Saeed Leilaz said.

Several police cruisers were damaged as rocks were thrown and bonfires were set in the street. Press TV reporter Amir Mehdi Kazemi said he heard gunshots at the rally and at least one person, a boy, appeared to be injured by the gunfire. Reinforcement officers were called in from throughout the city to help disperse the crowd, Leilaz said.

Looting was prevalent in Tehran.
Here, teenage boys break into a Foot Locker store to get the new Kobe shoe.

Downtown celebrations lasted well into the morning hours in downtown Tehran, a city known for rabid Laker fans. This phenomenon first developed when Lakers star Kobe Bryant - best known for his community service work off the court - came to Iran to introduce basketball to the children there. Tehran residents held Laker-watching parties throughout the playoffs, even giving a significant boost to the satellite television industry.

The brazen and sometimes even angry confrontations in Tehran — including stunning scenes of masked rioters tangling with black-clad police — were described by Leilaz as spineless. "It's not easy to stand there when cowards in the middle of the crowd are throwing rocks and bottles at them," Leilaz said. He commended his officers for showing restraint despite "a lot of provocation from a number of knuckleheads," he told a crowd of reporters through an interpreter. "They're just mimicking the kind of bad example set by fans from the States," Leilaz said.

In 2000, after the Lakers won their first NBA title in 12 years, fans rioted outside the Staples Center, burning police cars and leaving more than 70 vehicles damaged, many at nearby auto dealerships. At least a dozen were injured.

Lakers fans riot in LA following 2000 title win

For Los Angeles, it was the city's first NBA championship in seven years, and the franchise's 15th overall. For the Lakers players though, it was a redemption win after falling to the Boston Celtics in last years finals. It was also the 4th NBA championship for Series MVP Kobe Bryant, and 10th coaching title for Phil Jackson. Two teams battled through the 2009 Finals, providing three close games in five chances, but even with that attempt at parity, it's clear that the Los Angeles Lakers were just a giant step above the Orlando Magic.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I live in L.A. so it took me a minute to realize that I was being had. This was funny and sad at the same time but very well done.