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Milwaukee Bucks’ fans celebrate NBA championship with parade

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MILWAUKEE (AP) — Thousands of fans lined downtown Milwaukee streets on Thursday to catch a glimpse of their beloved Bucks in a parade to celebrate town’s first NBA championship in half a century.

Six law enforcement officials on horseback clopped previous cheering fans on the head of a procession that included a hook-and-ladder fireplace truck, sometimes blaring its horn, and open-air buses and flatbed vehicles carrying Bucks stars together with Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday, in addition to the trophy they captured Tuesday evening with a Game 6 victory over Phoenix.

Fans might be heard chanting, “Bucks in 6,” an odd however fashionable rallying cry with roots in a former Bucks participant’s fruitless prediction in 2013 that the workforce would take down the playoffs’ high seed on the time.

Antetokounmpo held his son, 1-year-old Liam, atop a bus as fans alongside the route chanted “MVP!” Later, he shot a basketball into the group.

“Milwaukee, we did it baby! We did it!” Antetokounmpo stated to a cheering crowd within the Deer District, the realm exterior the Bucks’ Fiserv Forum. “This is our city, this is our city, man, we did it! Unbelievable.”

Neil and Rachana Bhatia, each 34 and from suburban Waukesha, introduced 1-month-old son Zain to the Deer District, saying they needed to provide Zain an early style of being a Bucks fan.

Neil Bhatia referred to as profitable the title “surreal.”

“ It unifies the city and puts the city on a global stage. It’s great for the city and the state. It’s just bringing everybody together to celebrate something that hasn’t happened in 50 years,” he stated.

“The city has had its struggles. What I know is that it’s been a city that’s coming together,” stated longtime Bucks fan Dameon Ellzey, 45, a Milwaukee native who lives close to the sector and was stationed there to see the parade.

“In my neighborhood, you could hear everybody on their porches screaming,” Ellzey stated. “Black, white, Asian. In a city like Milwaukee, that’s big.”

Milwaukee has lengthy ranked among the many most segregated cities in America. Team President Peter Feigin referred to as it “the most segregated, racist place” he’d ever skilled, remarks he later softened. As the Bucks drove towards a championship this yr, some folks had been cheered by the range of the huge crowds that gathered within the Deer District to watch the Bucks on large TV screens.

The workforce’s ascendance has invigorated a Midwestern metropolis removed from the league’s extra cosmopolitan venues like Los Angeles, Boston or Miami — cities which have historically discovered it simpler to draw the sport’s high gamers. One motive fans have embraced Antetokounmpo is his loyalty to the workforce that drafted him eight years in the past when he was simply 18.

“He recognizes the city and its quality and he resonates with it,” Timothy Seymour, 20, stated of Antetokounmpo. “He really reflects our work ethic. He works hard. And he reflects how we’re only going to get better.”

Police estimated 100,000 folks jammed the Deer District for Tuesday evening’s Game 6. Though the coronavirus pandemic has lessened in comparison with a yr in the past, the extent of instances in each Wisconsin and Milwaukee County nonetheless is rated by the state as excessive, with every day new instances within the county roughly tripling over the previous two weeks to 80 per day.

City well being officers famous Thursday that bulletins of the parade had urged that unvaccinated folks put on masks. Few had been seen amongst fans on the parade route or later exterior the sector. The metropolis well being division stated their contact tracing workforce would intently monitor the occasion.

Julie Willems Van Dijk, deputy secretary of the state Department of Health Services, predicted the 2 massive gatherings would result in extra COVID-19 instances.

“We are concerned,” she stated. “We know people wanted to be jubilant and celebrate. But we know, half the state is fully vaccinated and half the state is not and I assume the same is true for people in the Deer District and the arena. And I didn’t see half the crowd masked.”

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Associated Press author Scott Bauer contributed from Madison, Wisconsin.

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