City Celebrates Chicago Bulls’ Championship
CHICAGO (AP) _ They waited for three years for another NBA title, and chewed their nails through two crushing defeats in Seattle.
On Sunday night, though, Chicago Bulls fans finally tasted victory again _ under the watchful eyes of 5,000 police officers deployed to prevent an repeat of the mayhem that followed the Bulls titles in 1991, 1992 and 1993.
``I think all along, everybody knew what the outcome was going to be. And it just got dampened when it dragged on and dragged on and dragged on,″ bartender Rebecca Shumay said after the Bulls defeated the Seattle SuperSonics 87-75 for their fourth NBA championship in six years.
In the city’s River North area _ crowded with restaurants, bars and apartment buildings _ streets were full of strangers shaking hands and fireworks and smoke bombs exploding immediately after the win.
But the scene resembled a exuberant spring break party more than a riot scene, and many police officers dressed in riot gear had their hands stuffed in their pockets.
In the city’s Rush Street nightlife district, bars blared ``We Are the Champions″ and other songs after the win. Fans poured out of bars and into the street for a boisterous, but not out of control, celebration.
Barricades kept vehicles out of much of the area, where taxi cabs were overturned by rowdy fans after the Bulls’ 1992 win, and there was a heavy police presence.
Police reported an influx of trouble calls in the hour after the game, with scattered reports of looting and attempted arson. Police spokesman Paul Jenkins said arrests were in progress but could not provide details or say how many incidents had been reported.
``We’re going to maintain order and control,″ Jenkins said. ``The message is: Break the law and go to jail.″
After the Bulls raced to a 3-0 lead in the best-of-7 series, the city braced for a raucous celebration. But when the Bulls lost in Seattle last Wednesday and again on Friday, the party was put on hold.
Mayor Richard M. Daley devoted more than $4 million and weeks of crowd-control planning in an attempt to prevent a repeat of the riots that followed the Bulls’ second NBA title in 1992.
Police Superintendent Matt Rodriguez posted 5,000 officers, many in riot gear, on the streets during the game. Up to 220 state troopers were deployed and 200 National Guardsmen were on standby at a South Side armory.
Hundreds of extra city, county and state police officers had been put on alert for possible trouble Wednesday, when the Bulls had hoped to sweep the championship from Seattle.
When the Sonics thrashed the Bulls 107-86 in Game 4, city officials picked up an $800,000 tab for police overtime for the celebration that wasn’t. Then they did it all again Friday _ at a cost of $1.4 million _ when the SuperSonics beat the Bulls 89-78, forcing the series to return to Chicago.
City workers this week went store to store in high-risk areas advising merchants on security measures. And an hour before tip-off time, city sanitation workers took away all the garbage cans in the central city so they couldn’t be thrown through windows.
In a plea for peaceful celebrations, Bulls coach Phil Jackson and players Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman had videotaped a public service message.
In June 1992, rioters set fire to businesses and damaged police cars, city buses and subway cars. The damage was estimated at more than $10 million.