|Kansas fans turn out in droves for parade, celebration|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 13 April 2008 17:01|
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) -In possibly the biggest celebration in the city's history, a crowd estimated at more than 100,000 lined downtown streets Sunday to honor the national basketball champion Kansas Jayhawks.
Fans from as far away as Colorado and Minnesota, some in trees and on rooftops, came to get a glimpse of coach Bill Self, Mario Chalmers and the rest of the team that beat Memphis 75-68 to win the NCAA championship.
Fans lined the sidewalks as many as 10 deep to watch as players, coaches and team personnel paraded by in shiny red and black Mustang and Corvette convertibles.
``I was here for the parade 20 years ago when we won it in 1988 and I think this is even bigger and better,'' said Esther McPherson of Tonganoxie. ``This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a lot of people, but I do think we are going to do it again.''
Brandon Rush and Darrell Arthur, who both may enter the NBA draft, were targets of chants of ``One more year! One more year!'' as their cars passed by the screaming fans, estimated by police to be well over 100,000 - easily surpassing the estimated 40,000 that celebrated the 1988 championship.
The school's band and cheerleaders participated, as did chancellor Robert Hemenway and athletics director Lew Perkins. Russell Robinson, the Jayhawks' senior leader and a fan favorite, rode in the parade's last car and held the championship trophy high for everyone to see.
``Unbelievable,'' said Lawanna Newlin, who along with her husband, Ed, has been following the Jayhawks for almost 40 years. ``It's a great day in Lawrence. We saw it happening, but it was hard to believe. Seeing all of these people, now we can believe it.''
After the parade, fans gathered in Allen Fieldhouse for an awards ceremony that capped off one of the greatest seasons in school history.
A highlight film recapped the run, from the first day of practice to the final seconds of overtime in the championship game in San Antonio.
``It's been an amazing journey,'' Robinson told the estimated 12,000 fans in attendance. ``I can't imagine having anything better.''
Robinson then reminded fans how the season began in October when the team arrived at Allen Fieldhouse in convertibles to for ``Late Night in the Phog.''
``And here we are,'' Robinson said. ``Ending the season the same way we started.''