It was warm and sweet, loud and proud, and when the celebration ended, no one wanted to go home. Not today and maybe not 'til next June or even the June after that.
In a parade and victory celebration that was better, more real, more heartfelt and less pretentious and oafish than previous championship parties, on a warm, wonderful Wednesday the Lakers unified our city as only they can, bringing a sense of community and commanality to our diverse and disparate sprawling metropolis.
This was so much better than real sports, dominated today by power, money and a lot of poor decision making. Plus we didn't have to suffer through Pat Riley bragging, Shaquille O'Neal rapping or Mark Madsen dancing. Instead, Pau spoke real Castillan Spanish with elegance and class.
And those who questioned whether it was right or prudent to even hold a parade in today's difficult economic climate certainly have every right to a take-2 do-over today. It was right and it was also prudent.
Fact is, there will be a lot written and said about how our city needed this parade and the good, happy, optimistic vibes the Lakers brought to it. Needed is not the right word. In real life, our city needs more jobs, better teachers and more money for schools a lot more than it needs 15 tall multimillionaires dancing in a circle to "I Love L.A.". But the point is, the party didn't cost the city one red penny and the entire morning and afternoon of purple and gold couldn't have struck a more spot-on note to brighten a city that can use a little cheering up, a city that wants only to feel a little better about itself.
Meantime, the media alarm bells are going off already: Can the Lakers sign both Odom and Ariza? Or will they have to let one or the other key components go over money?
Memo to the panic-stricken: Jerry Buss has not, does not and will not break up any of his championship teams over a few million dollars. It is not how he runs his business. Nor is it how, in 30 years, he has brought the city nine NBA championships, presiding over a franchise now worth 20 or even 30 times the $38 million he paid for the whole shooting match, Lakers included, back in 1979.
So they're all coming back, Phil included, bad knees and hips notwithstanding. In other words, get used to that raised, luxury leather courtside chair. Why should the Tenmaster stop at 10 when numbers 11, 12 and maybe even 13 are right out there beyond the horizon?
This present Laker team is young and hungry, locked and loaded, battle-tested but still learning to play at max efficiency together, and their excitement over taking another hard run at the gold ball was palpable during the parade rally. Their work is not done and they know it.
Training camp opens in about 105 days, not that I'm counting or anything.
So as crews stayed to sweep away the purple and gold confetti, all that really remained where frozen memories of Fish in Game 4 and Kobe's great burden clearly lifted in his face and $135 million dollar smile. The Kobester bounced around today with a visible, airy lightness, his face less lined, literally looking several years younger. He simply looked relieved. Which for Kobe will quickly turn to reinvigoration, maybe as soon as tomorrow, when he does five more hours in the gym.
Oh, and just one lingering question, one having nothing to do with Odom or Ariza or money or Phil's future, but a question many of you will be thinking and wondering about over the next 11-plus months.
Can they do it again?
Green formerly covered the Lakers for the L.A. Times. He is currently Senior Sports Producer for KTLA Prime News
No Rain on This Parade
Lakers Players Celebrate