It’s a bittersweet feeling to see the Los Angeles Lakers’ home floor bearing another name.
For a generation, it will forever be known as Staples Center.
However, the naming rights lease ended, and the stadium will now be the Crypto.com Arena.
Taking down the big red letters that adorned the building’s exterior was like an end of a glorious era.
ALWAYS GONNA BE STAPLES CENTER TO ME IDC 😤 pic.twitter.com/jvD9WsgGOO
— Overtime (@overtime) December 6, 2021
Champions deserve a luxurious edifice, and Staples was the perfect upgrade from The Great Western Forum.
Aside from its proper name, NBA fans called the building “The House That Kobe Built.”
It’s also “The Deal That Almost Wasn’t” after some officials in the city council opposed its construction.
But 22 years later, Staples Center became the mecca of sports and entertainment in Los Angeles.
Die-hard Lakers fans worldwide strive to witness at least one game to complete their basketball hajj.
As these facts prove, the memories live on now that it has changed its name.
3. Star Plaza
Walking into Staples Center was akin to entering the Colosseum.
It’s where gladiators from various sports competed for glory.
If the Roman stadium had statues for its legendary warriors, Staples also has tributes for ten famous Los Angeles athletes and sportscasters.
The LA Lakers honored Shaq, who helped the team to 3 consecutive NBA titles, with a bronze statue outside Staples Center on Friday. SAT0015 pic.twitter.com/OtYQEdyVix
— CBS Newspath (@cbsnewspath) March 25, 2017
The late legendary broadcaster Chick Hearn also has his statue, while Los Angeles Sparks icon Lisa Leslie will have hers soon.
Other athletes rounding up Star Plaza are Wayne Gretzky, Luc Robitaille, Bob Miller, and Oscar De La Hoya.
2. A Witness To Two NBA Championships
Everyone remembers where they were when their favorite sports team won the championship.
Some are at their homes cheering with their family.
But others were lucky enough to score tickets to title-clinching moments at Staples.
While the Lakers hosted numerous NBA Finals games here, two were moments that will forever live in the team’s lore.
I had a lot of fun at the STAPLES Center watching the @Lakers take down the hated Celtics!
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) December 8, 2021
A year after the stadium opened, the Lakers won Games 6 of the Finals against the Indiana Pacers to bag their 12th NBA crown.
Before Los Angeles witnessed another championship clincher at home, the team won three more titles.
The Lakers were down coming into the fourth quarter of Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals.
However, they came back and won the title, 83-79.
It took the Lakers a decade after that victory to add to their Larry O’Brien collection.
1. Kobe’s House Forever
Yes, Shaq did play at Staples during the team’s three-peat.
But ask any Lakers fan, and the late Kobe Bryant has a more profound impact on them.
He nearly played for another team but chose to stay for his entire career.
After winning three straight championships from 2000 to 2002, Bryant was the undisputed leader of back-to-back title teams in 2009 and 2010.
— V💙 (@MsSportsFan24) December 6, 2021
It was also in Staples wherein Bryant had two of the most memorable games of his illustrious career.
He torched the Toronto Raptors for 81 points, setting the second-highest mark for points in a single NBA game.
The 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player and two-time Finals MVP also delivered a performance to remember when he tallied 60 points in his final game.
Bryant tragically passed away in January 2020, but his presence will waver at the stadium where he was the king, regardless of its name.