Estimated 60,000 fill Hartford for UConn men’s basketball championship parade

An estimated 60,000 UConn fans filled the streets of Hartford, erupting when the double-decker bus carrying the back-to-back champion UConn men pulled in front of the XL Center.

Like deja vu, there was head coach Dan Hurley, with his sunglasses on, hat on backwards, addressing the crowd from the podium on Trumbull Street with the championship trophy on a table to his left. He began to speak and the crowd started chanting his name. He stopped to egg them on: “Let’s go!”

“Everywhere we went this year, every arena we went to, on the road, MSG, Brooklyn then Boston then Phoenix, we said the same thing every time we walked into the arena,” he said. “We always said: ‘The champs are here!’ The champs are here today in Hartford with the best fans in the world. Basketball Capital of the World, Storrs, Connecticut. Back-to-back champs!”

For lack of a better rhyme with seven, Hurley said, “Next year we go for the three-peat!”

Donovan Clingan, Alex Karaban, Tristen Newton and Cam Spencer, three returners and one who was experiencing the parade feeling for the first time, followed Hurley on the mic, all echoing similar thank yous. Clingan announced his decision to enter the NBA Draft on Friday, the first domino to fall as the staff looks to rebuild in the portal. The only players who don’t have a choice to make are graduate students Newton and Spencer, who’ve run out of eligibility and will pursue professional options.

“We wouldn’t have been able to accomplish this without you guys,” Spencer said. “Best fans in the country. I was only here for a year but I’m a Husky for life, thank you for everything.”

UConn won a record 12 consecutive NCAA Tournament games by at least 13 points on its path to two national titles.