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Thousands Celebrate Bulls’ Victory

June 16, 1998

CHICAGO (AP) _ An ocean of fans in red and black filled Grant Park today to celebrate the Chicago Bulls’ sixth NBA championship, bringing with them plenty of raucous cheers and pleas for their heroes to come back for another season.

``This is really for the fans who can’t afford the $300 courtside tickets and get to see the players,″ said Jim Perez of Elmhurst. ``Look at the crowd. It’s all kids. This is the people’s rally.″

Perez arrived at about 3:30 a.m., long before Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis ``Worm″ Rodman and the rest of the championship team. Perez joined about 1,000 other fans who already claimed the coveted seats in the bandshell.

Latecomers sat on the lawn, where police estimated 25,000 people had arrived by 9 a.m. Most of them wore T-shirts commemorating the Bulls’ six championships or carried signs hailing their heroes.

Gina Philip, 19, of Skokie, held a sign with a picture of Michael Jordan and ``Seventh Heaven″ written on it _ a reference to her hopes that owner Jerry Reinsdorf and general manager Jerry Krause bring the key players back next season.

``I’ve lived in Chicago all of my life but I’ve never seen a game. I just want the chance to see Michael or Scottie or somebody,″ she said.

``The Jerrys better let them come back. Otherwise, they’re going to have a whole city mad at them,″ she said.

Police said the crowd was orderly.

But Sunday, in the first three hours after the game ended, Chicago’s 911 dispatchers handled 4,368 calls, up from 3,206 last year. Still, celebration-related arrests fell from 582 last year to 441, and reports of serious incidents dropped from 144 to 77.

The celebration stood in sharp contrast to the mayhem that followed the Bulls’ early championships. In 1991, more than 1,000 people were arrested, and looters hit stores across the city after the Bulls won their first championship.

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