LOS ANGELES -- The votes came tumbling in Wednesday, from old men and little boys, from suits and shorts, from black and white and yellow and brown and mostly purple.
The votes bounced off two double-decker buses like hail on a tin roof, loudly, insistently, chaotically.
The votes filled up Figueroa Street with newspaper strips and silly string and more affection than anyone in his laid-back town thought possible.
''Awesome,'' said Phil Jackson, his eyes wide, his beard wet. ''That's the only thing I can say. Awesome.''
After more than a decade under a blue-fisted rule, the votes screamed, and chanted, and sang for change.
This is no longer a Dodger town.
This, the votes said, is a Laker town.
''After all these years of quiet, today the Lakers took over the place again,'' said Magic Johnson. ''It's their town, now. They got it.''
Do they ever.
While their NBA championship clinching Monday night set the agenda, the Lakers' parade and Staples Center celebration Wednesday approved it.
It wasn't just about 250,000 people lining one of our major downtown streets. It was about people, cramped and sweating and adoring, redefining that street.
People sitting on sculptures we didn't know existed, hanging from the balconies of hotels we had forgotten, jumping out of alleys that had long been ignored.
Young men in shaved heads leaping in front of a bus just to shout at the 7-footer smiling from atop it.
An old woman in a cane hobbling alongside the same bus for an entire block in hopes that the same 7-footer would simply look at her once.
An elderly man making perhaps the pass of the season -- tossing a souvenir cap up two stories to a moving bus, where Rick Fox had no choice but to grab it and sign it.
After two hours of sirens and air horns and even weeping, redefined was a city's sports personality.
Since the end of Showtime, this town has belonged to the Dodgers. Their unlikely world championship in 1988 captured imaginations and wallets.
Even though, before Monday, neither the Lakers nor Dodgers had won a title since then, this remained a baseball town.
The Dodgers drew well even though they were bad. The Lakers did not.
The Dodgers never did much with their history. The Lakers did less.
Readership surveys showed there were more Dodger fans than Laker fans.
The citywide outrage and pain felt when Peter O'Malley sold the Dodgers to Fox showed us that nothing moves Los Angeles sports fans like their baseball team.
Then the Fox fury died. The Dodgers fell into the horrors of mediocrity.
While the Lakers got closer, and closer.
Then Jerry Buss hired Phil Jackson.
And a year later, everything has changed.
The sort of multiethnic crowd that surrounded the Lakers Monday?
That's a Dodger crowd.
''The diversity of people here today was wonderfully mind-boggling,'' said assistant coach Bill Bertka. ''That the Lakers can bring so many different people together, that has to be one of our greatest achievements.''
The sort of emotions these people heaped on the Lakers?
Enduring the crowds and heat for nothing more than a glimpse of big guys in T-shirts and sunglasses?
That used to be a Dodger passion.
''To look down Figueroa and see the mass of people there, I've never seen anything like it,'' said John Salley, who has been in championship celebrations in three cities, more than anyone in NBA history.
Ron Harper, who did this in Chicago, put it in two words.
''It's crazy,'' he said. ''And crazy.''
Jackson, who also has a little bit of experience with these sorts of things, shook his head.
''This is why they only had the parade the first year in Chicago,'' he said. ''So many people. Just so many people.''
The festivities started at 11 a.m. with a sight perhaps more amazing then anything that came later.
Mayor Richard Riordan actually publicly supporting a sports team.
At least he showed his face, which is more than he has done for any other local team in years. His absence has, among other things, allowed the NFL to leave town and prevented it from returning.
And give the guy credit. At his age, Riordan can still leap onto a bandwagon, which he did while introducing Laker Coach Phil Jackson without a hitch.
''We've started a new millennium,'' Jackson shouted.
Then the parade started, and everywhere signs were flapping, and Jackson's words were slightly turned.
''The New Phillenium Starts Now,'' read one sign.
''A.C. Green, Will You Marry Me,'' read another, more wildly optimistic sign.
The Laker band, on a fire truck, began playing, ''Walk This Way.''
But soon the crowds narrowed the streets and the police motorcyles narrowed it further and far ahead the crowd had completely covered the streets.
And nobody could walk.
Twice during the parade, everything stopped while officials worked to clear a path.
In the middle of it all was Tim Leiweke, Staples Center boss who came down from his office to run between buses and fire trucks and fans.
His office planned the parade, so he decided to work it, comforting crying women and moving barriers and making sure the players reached his building by, say, nightfall.
''This the greatest show of love between a city and a sports team that I have ever seen,'' said Leiweke, who used to work in Denver. ''We knew it would be big. We had no idea it would be this big.''
Who would have guessed, after Monday's postgame vandalism, that the parade would work so smoothly?
Leiweke's folks should be congratulated.
And, given the makeup of the team and the passion of the city, perhaps they should prepare for more of the same.
High above the noise and the confetti and the love, there was a voice.
''We're just getting started,'' said Shaquille O'Neal, mayor of Laker town.
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