Starting on Christmas Day, the iconic STAPLES Center will cease to exist.
When the Los Angeles Lakers host the Brooklyn Nets, a new era will begin in downtown Los Angeles with Crypto.com officially taking over the arena naming rights.
Crypto.com paid more than $ 700 million for the naming rights over the next 20 years, with the valuation of the deal, making it one of the largest in professional sports history.
Playing the San Antonio Spurs in the final game on “STAPLES,” the Lakers paid tribute to the home that Shaq and Kobe built with a tribute video, reliving some of the building’s most iconic moments.
Over the past 22 years, the STAPLES Center has hosted seven NBA Finals series with the Lakers, along with three NBA All-Star Games (2004, 2011, and 2018), creating plenty of legendary moments near and dear to hearts. of Lakers fans.
Joey Ramirez from Lakers.com posted a poll on Twitter for the STAPLES Center’s most iconic moments, which had over 23,000 votes at the time of this writing, with Kobe’s 60-point game in his final outing at the Purple and Gold ranking first.
With that said, on the final day at STAPLES, let’s go over the Lakers’ top 5 moments in the arena.
1. Kobe’s end
What a way to end a legendary 20-year career with the Lakers.
Bryant, a five-time NBA champion, and in the words of Magic Johnson, the ‘greatest Laker of all time’, said goodbye to the STAPLES Center in an astonishing way (and also in the most Kobe way possible) losing 60 points against the Utah Jazz in a 101-96 win while attempting 50 shots, the highest of his career!
“It’s hard to believe it happened this way,” he said after scoring the sixth game of more than 60 points of his career. “I’m still in shock from that.”
In front of a sold out crowd, it felt like every Hollywood celebrity was in attendance to see Los Angeles’ greatest show – Kobe.
And he put on a show that he did.
2. Kobe-Shaq’s alley-oop game
Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals against the Portland Trail Blazers, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal combined for one of the best plays in Lakers history, and that says something considering how many you could easily recite.
The Lakers took a 3-1 series lead before losing two straight games, setting up a win or going home in Game 7 at the STAPLES Center. At 75-60 with 10:28 left in the game, the Lakers mounted a legendary comeback, capped by an alley-oop from Bryant with O’Neal that sent them to the NBA Finals.
The Lakers would beat the Indiana Pacers in six games, giving the duo their first NBA title and the first franchise trophy since 1988.
3. Kobe’s 81-point masterpiece
This could arguably be number one on the list, given it’s Bryant’s best scoring performance and the second-highest scoring performance of all time, behind only Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 points.
In a 122-104 comeback over the Toronto Raptors, the Lakers needed every single one of Bryant’s buckets as he set fire to anyone who dared defend him with the full range of their offensive arsenal. He finished with 81 points on 28 of 46 shooting, including 7 of 13 from 3-point range and 18 of 20 from the free throw line.
Even Kobe couldn’t believe it.
“Not even in my dreams,” Bryant said after the all-time performance. “That was something that just happened. It is difficult to explain. It’s just one of those things. “
4. Game 7 of the 2010 Finals
Game 7. At home. Against your fiercest rival. There is nothing sweeter than that.
The Lakers clinched their 16th NBA championship in spectacular fashion, rebounding from a fourth-quarter deficit to defeat the Boston Celtics in Game 7.
It was Bryant’s fifth championship and the Lakers’ second in a row.
“This is by far the sweetest, because it’s them,” Bryant said after the win. “This was the hardest by far. I wanted it so bad, and sometimes when you want it so badly, it slips away. My boys picked me up.”
5. Robert Horry’s Winning Game
He got LeBron’s vote, so he’s on the list.
Robert ‘Big Shot’ Horry delivered an iconic buzzer to beat the Kings in Game 4 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals, one of the most iconic shots in Lakers history.
You probably need to add the Big Shot Rob vs Sac game winner! 1,000%
– LeBron James (@KingJames) December 24, 2021
Two points behind in the final seconds and looking down the barrel of a 3-1 series deficit, Horry let it fly to give the Lakers the 100-99 victory. They would go on to beat the Kings in seven games before defeating the New Jersey Nets in the NBA Finals.
Goodbye STAPLES. Thanks for the memories.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.