(Read More: Spurs Get Sweet Relief in Game 5)
I had a bicycle’s eye view as they executed it, and from what I witnessed, the downtown police force had a big game, showing strong on offense and defense.
If there were nasty incidents, I did not witness them.
SAPD’s pregame plan was simple: Remind fans what a stellar reputation the franchise, its players, and its fans all enjoy across the NBA universe. When we won, McManus exhorted the public in a widely played public service video shown during a commercial break during the ABC-TV telecast. Keep it clean, McManus implored. Other public service spots featured Spurs players counseling the same, and Spurs fans seemed to listen.
All roads to downtown were flooded with vehicles spilling over with flag-waving, horn-honking Spurs fans. From our Lavaca home, we watched South St. Mary’s Street and South Presa Street go from empty to bumper-to-bumper within minutes as people poured downtown. Even so, it was surprising to see hundreds of fans wearing Spurs shorts and caps, carrying team flags — some shooting smart phone videos of the wild rumpus — walking downtown from more than a mile away.
The police stopped traffic on South Alamo Street at César Chavez Boulevard, pushing it eastward. That stopped Southside traffic from reaching East Commerce Street, but it did not stop the Alamo Plaza from filling with vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians. Kudos to the cops for letting cyclists through on closed streets to join the pedestrians.
The big surprise came when we pedaled east to inspect East Commerce and found it to be a cyclists’ and pedestrians’ paradise. It was completely closed to vehicle traffic. This unannounced move by the police allowed them to redirect traffic south out of downtown even as vehicles poured in. We didn’t bike to the four points of the compass, so I couldn’t judge the police plan in its totality, but it seemed to work well. An overhead helicopter hovered, watching it all play out.
Last week, the Rivard Report published a story and photos looking at this uniquely San Antonio phenomenon. Yes, other major league cities go wild when their teams win titles, but we are pretty singular in our celebrations not devolving into mayhem and property damage.
The vast majority of the revelers are Latinos, and it makes me wonder if a Spurs championship, which seems to unite our city across all class, racial and ethnic lines like nothing else, is one moment when the powerless feel empowered. Si se puede.
Let’s be honest: the people who own the seats down low do not come downtown to honk their horns and groove in the shared energy of the masses. As I sat in Alamo Plaza last night — next to a New Mexico family sporting at least one LeBron James jersey — I realized the passing parade of people was one of the most racially-mixed crowds I could remember in the city, and also a youthful one. Sunday night’s downtown public party was, in many ways, the city of the future. Or maybe the city of now.
If we have peaceful Spurs fans, we also have peaceful men and women in uniform serving as cops and firefighters. I have written some tough articles about their collective bargaining talks and their rich health care benefits, but I have never doubted their competency or their commitment to keeping San Antonio safe.
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The Spurs were amazing this season, from start to finish. ¡Viva los Spurs! Time for a parade. Sunday night also included a stellar performance by the police. It was fun to watch them spread the downtown floor. It was a winning game plan.