By Jeff Chiu and Kristin J. Bender | Associated Press
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The streets of Oakland were awash in yellow and blue as hundreds of thousands of fans watched and cheered the Golden State Warriors victory parade, which has been 40 years in the making.
In a rare moment of glory, Oakland – a city that usually makes news for crime, corruption, protests and violence- shined in the national spotlight.
On Friday, blue-and-gold-clad fans flooded downtown to see the NBA championship players, MC Hammer, six floats and, of course, the championship trophy, won after the team bested LeBron James‘ Cleveland Cavaliers.
People started lining up as early as 3 a.m., and city officials estimated at least 500,000 fans packed the streets when the parade started about 10 a.m.
Kamala Moore arrived at the parade route at 4:15 a.m. “It’s history in the making,” she said.
“Oh my gosh, I really want to see Riley (Curry),” she said, referring to the 2-year-old daughter of Stephen Curry, her favorite player.
At Children’s Fairyland on Lake Merritt, it was all about Riley on Friday as the large colorful sign was changed to read “Rileyland” on Friday morning.
The mayors of San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland were all in the parade showing support for the team at a time when Oakland officials are fighting to keep the NBA champions from relocating across the San Francisco Bay. The Warriors have purchased land in San Francisco, where they plan to build a privately financed arena.
Warriors fans and city leaders alike have stood behind their team through the season, and on Friday they basked in the glory of the team’s first NBA title in four decades.
“The success of the Golden State Warriors, who are headquartered and play in Oakland, have provided a golden spotlight on this city. The resilience and tremendous potential of Oakland are emblematic of the Warriors’ victory,” said Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, who represents east Oakland and other East Bay cities and has been a Warriors fan since 1976.
The team won 105-97 in the Game 6 clincher Tuesday night.
“We’re so proud of the job that the entire city of Oakland did as these great ambassadors for these finals,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said Thursday. “Like the Warriors themselves, we put together a great team of businesses, fans and city workers that hosted the finals in world-class style.”
Shortly after noon Friday, Oakland police responded to reports that three men had been shot blocks away from the rally site. The victims, whose identities were not immediately released, are in stable condition.
Police did not yet have a motive in the shooting. It was not clear if the shooting was connected to the parade or rally.
The procession of floats wound through the city, leading to public transit delays and road closures. People stood six deep in some areas just for a chance to spot a favorite player.
As soon as the parade ended, a rally started at the city’s convention center.
David Fort, 38, of East Palo Alto planned to be at the rally with his son and daughter. “I love Golden State,” he said before the rally.
His 10-year-old son Anthony didn’t mind leaving the house before dawn because Curry is his favorite player, he said. “He’s so good,” Anthony said. “He’s like a god of 3-pointers.”
The rally came in a city that has been plagued by a number of problems. Violent protests over police shootings thrust Oakland into the national spotlight late last year. It been ranked as one of the nation’s most dangerous cities for many years, and the police department has been under a 13-year court-mandated police reform program.