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Wild Westwood : Police had to restrain raucous UCLA victory celebration in 1995

Charles O'Bannon celebrates UCLA's victory over Oregon in the Pac-10 tournament final on March 11, 1995.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

From the archives: This week marks the 25th anniversary of the UCLA men’s basketball team’s last NCAA championship victory. The following is a story from Times writers Mary Moore and Adrian Maher on the scene in Westwood after UCLA defeated Arkansas in Seattle on April 3, 1995:

Thousands of ecstatic UCLA students and supporters poured into the streets of Westwood after their school won the NCAA basketball championship Monday night, flashing victory signs, singing the UCLA fight song and sending up a roar of joy.

More than 200 riot-equipped Los Angeles police were called out to clear clogged intersections. Some of the officers fired rubber bullets at revelers after some in the crowd hurled beer bottles at them.

Moments after UCLA beat Arkansas, screaming fans streamed out of bars, fraternity houses and dormitories around the campus, jumping on parked cars and overturning a radio station’s van as the riot-helmeted officers struggled to contain them. Police estimated the crowd at more than 5,000.

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“It feels totally awesome,” said UCLA sophomore Mike Leszkai, a biochemistry major. “Going to a school and seeing a team come home with the national championship. It’s like no feeling in the world.”

“I’m so happy, I can’t even begin to tell you,” said Larry Oakley, owner of Oakley’s barbershop, a local landmark. “John Wooden did a fantastic thing, but this was better. . . . We haven’t had a lift like this in so long. We needed a lift.”

At the corner of Gayley and Weyburn avenues, more than 1,000 students gathered within minutes of the game’s finish, shouting and singing their lungs out. Some climbed light poles while others danced atop parked television vans.

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Police said fewer than 10 people were arrested, most on charges of disturbing the peace. Officers said a handful of students were injured by thrown bottles.

At least one student was disgusted by the display. “No one’s interested in the game. The game’s just an excuse to party, get drunk and try to get on TV,” said Daen Leon, a UCLA senior. “There’s no school spirit here.”

Some students began lining up at campus bars and restaurants as early as 9 a.m. Monday to get a choice seat to watch the game on big-screen TV.

At Maloney’s on Campus, more than 200 students packed the room, some with faces streaked with blue and gold paint. After each UCLA basket, students high-fived or bumped chests. The noise was enough to produce instant hearing loss.

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“I’d rather watch this here than in my apartment,” said UCLA junior Michael Yannuzi, as nearby students screamed the UCLA fight song. “This is just a huge house party. Everyone’s having a great time and there are no rules.”

Another big crowd gathered at Stratton’s Grill on Broxton Avenue. Again, the noise was overwhelming.

A look at the players and coaches from UCLA’s 1995 NCAA men’s basketball championship team and what they are up to today.

“It’s louder than any concert I’ve ever been to,” said Rachel McDevitt, a USC student who dropped in to cheer her school’s traditional rival. “There’s no USC-Bruin rivalry. We all come together during something like this.”

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Later, with half a dozen TV news helicopters circling overhead, students clambered into trees and began rocking parked cars. A student ran naked down Broxton, chased by two friends holding his clothes as onlookers cheered.

Police said they issued a citywide tactical alert after the game. LAPD officers were joined by campus police as well as California Highway Patrol officers.

About 9:30 p.m., police began clearing the area around Gayley and Weyburn. And an hour later, the situation was calm and the streets largely cleared.

“The testosterone level’s getting a little too high,” said McDevitt, the USC visitor. “I think it’s time to get back to the ‘hood.”

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Times staff writers Jack Cheevers and John M. Hubbell contributed to this story.


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