LOS ANGELES — Fans of the Thursday night game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs commemorated the arena known for more than 22 years as Staples Center with the final event before it was christened as Crypto.com Arena on Saturday.
The Staples, as it was colloquially known in Los Angeles, has become synonymous with the Lakers’ championship teams led by Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and Pau Gasol and with direction from Phil Jackson. The Lakers won the NBA championship in each of their first three seasons at Staples Center, winning three additional titles while calling the building home.
At the end of the first half of the Lakers’ 138-110 loss to San Antonio, the team held the introductions of the former Lakers player Gary Payton, Byron Scott, Luke Walton, Meta Sandiford-Artist and Robert HurryEach of them came out to stand among the six trophies, each resting on a pedestal on the court.
Staples Center has also hosted three NBA All-Star games whose main players were O’Neal, Bryant, LeBron James, Respectively. The 2011 All-Star Weekend featured Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin’s plunge over a car on Saturday’s All-Star. Additionally, Bryant notched 81 points in 2006 in addition to his 60-point performance in his last NBA game in 2016 on the hardwood at Staples Center.
AEG Worldwide, owner of the arena that has hosted the Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers for the past 20 years, sold the naming rights to office supplies giant Staples in 1997 for $116 million for a 20-year period that began when the arena opened its doors in downtown Los Angeles in 1999 .
The building will be renamed the Crypto.com Arena on Christmas Day, when the Lakers face the Brooklyn Nets (8p, ESPN). The Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange has bought the rights from AEG for $700 million over 20 years, according to multiple reports.
“Prone to fits of apathy. Introvert. Award-winning internet evangelist. Extreme beer expert.”