One million people in Oakland celebrate NBA champion Warriors

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[June 20, 2015]  By Emmett Berg
 OAKLAND, Calif. (Reuters) - A crowd estimated at 1 million people in Oakland celebrated the NBA champion Golden State Warriors at a parade and rally on Friday, where league MVP Stephen Curry remarked on how things have changed since he went unrecognized in the city.

The street party came three days after the Warriors won the National Basketball Association title four games to two over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Warriors, who are NBA champions for the first time since 1975, along with team executives and invited guests rode through downtown Oakland streets before onlookers 25 rows deep, many of whom had staked out positions the previous evening.

The crowd, which enjoyed a bright and cloudless day, was estimated at 1 million people, said Oakland police spokeswoman Officer Johnna Watson.

The procession wound to Lake Merritt, a small expanse of water adjoining Oakland's downtown, where team members addressed the crowd clustered along a plaza and the lake's shoreline.

"I remember six years ago when I was drafted, I lived right here on Lake Merritt and I could walk around and not be recognized," Curry, a Warriors guard who was voted this year's league Most Valuable Player, told the crowd.

"Now were world champs. Im so excited to be a part of this group."

More than two hours after the celebration began, a shooting erupted just outside a zone that had been secured for the parade and rally, Watson said.

Responding officers found three men with gunshot wounds, she said. Two were critically injured and the third was in stable condition, she said.

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It appears the men had an argument with another party before the shooting, Watson said. The shooter was still at large.

The streets near the rally, many of them blocked off by Oakland police, overflowed with revelers and vendors hawking T-shirts, caps and food.

James Penn, a 34-year-old resident of Sacramento, said fans and the team deserved the victory, especially after many disappointing seasons.

"This year the feeling is different," Penn said. "They're looking out for each other. They give us something to root for.

(Reporting by Emmett Berg; Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Eric Beech)

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