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If Lakers win, here's hoping fans don't blow it

Editorial

Violence, theft and destruction aren't just party fouls, they're crimes.

June 17, 2010

The Boston Celtics, as any Lakers fan has undoubtedly noticed in the course of what has been one of the most satisfying NBA Finals in recent memory, have temper-control issues. A team featuring forward/center Rasheed Wallace, who holds the dubious NBA record for most technical fouls, and center Kendrick Perkins, who like Wallace has played in danger of suspension if he commits a seventh technical in the playoffs, is as likely to throw games away with its uncontrolled passion as it is to win them.

It turns out the same flaw applies to basketball fans.

Los Angeles could not have asked for a more thrilling or consequential series, with the Lakers tied at three games apiece with their Beantown archrivals and the championship on the line Thursday night at Staples Center. Emotions are understandably running high, and although we're rooting for a home victory as hard as anybody, we're wary about the often sad consequences of what should be a glorious occasion. Last year, after the Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic in the NBA Finals, jubilant crowds broke car windshields, vandalized police cars and looted stores. "It makes me not want to be a basketball fan," a tearful Richard Torres told The Times after his downtown shoe store was ravaged.

The city of Boston has as much reason to worry as Los Angeles; three people there have died in the last six years during celebrations of sporting victories, and police are being deployed in force to head off trouble in the event of a Boston win. We'd be happy to see the Lakers relieve Boston's finest of that burden, but the L.A. Police Department has been tight-lipped about its plans other than to say that a large contingent of officers will be on duty Thursday night. The LAPD may have been caught by surprise last year because the final game was played in Florida and local riots were unexpected. It will have no excuses for not being far better prepared now.

It's not too likely that drunken thugs in purple-and-yellow jerseys are reading this page for advice on postgame etiquette, but we'll give it anyway: Violence, theft and destruction aren't just party fouls, they're crimes. The team that loses its head will probably lose the game — and rooters who do the same could lose even more. Here's hoping for a win by the Lakers, and their fans.

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