On Tuesday came the news that Staples Center, the downtown Los Angeles home of the Lakers, Clippers (who returned to L.A. after a brief stint in Temecula), the WNBA’s Sparks, and the NHL’s Kings, will be known as Crypto.com Arena beginning on Christmas Day. Per the Los Angeles Times, the $700 million naming rights deal means that one of the most iconic venues in the world will have a new name for the next 20 years, and all Staples Center signage will be replaced by June 2022.
As someone who lives a grand total of two blocks away from
Staples Center Crypto.com Arena, calling this seismic shift jarring is an understatement. But long-time residents of Los Angeles aren’t the only ones not feeling the change, as even NBA players admit to struggling with what the near future holds.
“I don’t know how it’s gonna be not Staples. Like, I can’t see it,” Clippers guard Reggie Jackson said after his team beat the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night. “I apologize ahead, I’ll still be calling it Staples. [...] Kobe, especially my era, growing up, watching those championships. Shaq. Nah, it’s too many memories. It’s gonna be hard to not call it Staples. I can’t imagine, I don’t even know if you can do that.”
His teammate, perennial All-Star Paul George, echoed those sentiments.
“It’ll definitely be weird,” George said. “It’s just, it’s the same location, but it’s kind of like just stripping the history here by calling it something else. You know, from there going forward, it’s I guess the new history to be written. But it’ll be weird.”
That’s one way to put it.
Lakers star Russell Westbrook, who was one of the team’s big-name acquisitions this offseason, had the best response yet to the new name.
“The Crip? What’d you say? The Crip Arena?” he responded during a press conference when a reporter mentioned the name change. “I didn’t know what you said.”
Count Lakers coach Frank Vogel as another person struggling with all of this.
“Yeah, it’s tough, you know what I mean? Lakers fans and really sports fans in general obviously know that building as the Staples Center,” he said. “I understand the disappointment the fans will have. But that’s just the way of the world. This is the business we’re in. Almost universally around the country, there’s a business element to naming rights for the arenas. It’s really out of our control.”
On Twitter, Lakers fans have done just about everything short of rioting, as they’ve taken turns both reminiscing on the venue’s storied past and expressing their clear dismay at Crypto.com’s imminent takeover.
“Forever known as ‘The House That Kobe Built’,” she captioned a photo of Staples Center with her late husband’s arms wrapped around the building.
Clearly, change is inevitable, but this one might take a long time for sports fans—whether they’re based in Los Angeles or not—to adjust to.