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Orderly Crowds Celebrate Victory

Hundreds of Detroit fans cheer, honk horns and dance amid a heavy police presence.

June 16, 2004|From Associated Press

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Hundreds of Piston fans cheered, honked car horns and danced in downtown Detroit early today to celebrate their team's improbable NBA championship.

The crowd was orderly amid a heavy police presence after Detroit won the title with a 100-87 victory over the heavily favored Lakers. It was Detroit's first basketball championship since 1990.

"Ain't no party like Detroit party 'cause Detroit party don't stop," revelers chanted.

When asked what police were encountering shortly before 12:30 a.m. EDT today, Detroit Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings said, "Other than large crowds and backed-up traffic, that's pretty much the norm right now."

In suburban Detroit, rowdy Piston fans filled downtown Royal Oak, spilling into the streets and blocking traffic at times. Some people set off illegal fireworks. Mounted police began working to disperse the crowd.

Detroit police scheduled extra patrols until 3 a.m., mobilizing vice, narcotics and other special units, said Officer Derek Jones, a spokesman.

He said officers were monitoring major roads into the city from the direction of the arena, the Palace of Auburn Hills.

The last time the Pistons won the NBA championship, seven people were killed, six of them hit by cars, and hundreds were injured by gunfire, stabbings and fighting.

Looting and raucous behavior led to dozens of arrests after fans jammed streets to mark Detroit's victory over the Portland Trail Blazers for the championship.

This time, crowds thronged around souvenir stands to buy T-shirts, visors and championship pennants, while others headed to their cars for what would be a short night's sleep for many.

The celebration will continue Thursday with an 11:30 a.m. parade in Detroit, according to Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

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