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Take a trip down memory lane — what’s your top Staples Center memories from the first 20 years?

By Tom Hoffarth

Staples Center has gone platinum. That’s the thing we try to gift to mark 20 years, right? Or is it china?

The 20th anniversary date falls on Oct. 17, with a Kings’ game against Buffalo. We often overlook these sort of celebratory moments. Not this time.


We’ve got the “centerpiece” story in the current issue of the Los Angeles Business Journal (the first quarter of it linked here) about how those who were around from well beyond the groundbreaking can’t believe the $32 billion economic impact the arena has had on the downtown South Park area.

We’ve noted in our latest L.A. Times weekly column our favorite life-intimidates-media moment from “Curb Your Enthusiasm” in 2001 (here’s even more background), followed by a Lakers-Clippers game in 2017. The “Shaq” episode also made it on’s 2017 list of the top “Curb Your Enthusiasm” shows of all time… as it should be.

AEG just ended a contest asking fans to vote for the Top 20 moments in the arena’s first 20 years. In 2010, it had a list of the Top 25 events to date, and a fan vote to bring it the Top 10 .

We’ve got our own lists. Not just the coolest sports moments, but also the non-sports category.

How does this sound?



= May 17-20, 2012: For the first time in the facility’s history, its three NBA and NHL tenants make the playoffs and as a result, six playoff games must be scheduled over a four-day period. The Kings-Phoenix NHL Western Conference finals Games 3 and 4 happen May 17 and 20. The Lakers-Oklahoma City NBA Western Conference semifinals Games 3 and 4 go on Friday and Saturday nights. The Clippers-San Antonio NBA Western Conference semifinals Games 3 and 4 are wedged in Saturday afternoon and Sunday night. Also on Sunday, some 120 cyclists reach the finish line of the Tour of California just outside Staples Center. The New York Times notes it might be “the most intense concentration of elite competition in a single arena in modern history – or in ‘any building in the history of the world,’ quipped Michael Roth, the Staples Center spokesman.”


June 21, 2000

= June 4, 2000: The Lakers’ 89-84 win over Portland in Game 7 of the Western Conference final is punctuated by an alley-oop pass from Kobe Bryant to Shaquille O’Neal, finishing with a dunk with 40 seconds to play. The Lakers trailed by 15 points with 10:28 remaining before that comeback.

= June 19, 2000: Shaquille O’Neal scores 41 points with 10 rebounds and Kobe Bryant has 26 points and 10 rebounds as the Lakers knock off the Indiana Pacers, 116-111, in Game 6 of the NBA Finals to claim their first title under coach Phil Jackson, the franchise’s first title since 1988. O’Neal is the NBA Finals MVP for the first of three years in a row.
The team victory parade on June 21 above shows the crowds filling in the parking lots around Staples Center — now occupied by L.A. Live and other structures.

= Jan. 22, 2006: Kobe Bryant sets an arena record and a career-high with an 81-point game in a win against Toronto. He made 28 of 46 shots, including seven 3-pointers, to go with 18 free throws. It is the second-most points scored by one player in an NBA game behind Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game in 1962.


June 6, 2012= June 11, 2012: The Kings’ 6-1 win over New Jersey in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final caps off their first NHL championship and finishes a 12-2 playoff run as the Western Conference’s improbable long-shot eighth seeded position. It ends their 44-season drought, the longest wait in NHL history for a franchise’s first Cup. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick is the Conn Smythe winner as playoff MVP.

= June 14, 2014: Alec Martinez’ goal in the second overtime boosts the Kings past the New York Rangers, 3-2, in Game 5 to lock down the second Stanley Cup win in three seasons. It is the first time the home team had an overtime Stanley Cup clincher since 1980. The Kings’ Justin Williams is named winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy.

= April 18, 2001: “The Frenzy on Figueroa” is the outcome of the Kings’ 4-3 overtime win over Detroit in Game 4 of the Western Conference quarterfinals on Eric Belanger’s goal from Adam Deadmarsh, come back from a 3-0 deficit deep into the third period and on the verge of elimination. They won Game 6 five nights later back at Staples Center 3-2 in overtime and advanced in the playoffs for the first time since a run to the final in 1993.

= Aug. 1, 2006: At X Games 12, Travis Pastana lands a double back flip on a motorcycle, the first ever, during the MotoX Best Trick competition. He earns a 98.60 score, the highest in the competition. He is the third athlete to win three gold medals in a single X Games, including MotoX Freestyle, and Rally Car Racing.

= Oct, 9, 2002: A bronze statue of Wayne Gretzky is unveiled in the Staples Center courtyard and becomes the first player honored. It is followed up by statues of Magic Johnson (2004), Oscar De La Hoya (2008), Chick Hearn (2010), Jerry West (2011), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (2012), Luc Robitaille (2015), Shaquille O’Neal (2017), Bob Miller (2018) and Elgin Baylor (2018).

=  Feb. 28, 2015: In UFC 184, the first ultimate fight card at the arena since UFC 104 in 2009, local “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey defends her woman’s bantamweight title with a 14-second arm bar submission of Cat Zingano, the quickest end in a UFC championship history. There are 17,654 in attendance. The organization returns to Staples Center with UFC 227 in 2018.

= Feb. 15, 2004: In the first of three NBA All Star game played at the arena, and 53rd oveall, the West defeats the East, 136-132, lead by Shaquille O’Neal’s 24 points and 11 rebounds, winning the MVP award. Most memorable performance? Beyonce, at halftime, before 19,662. The event returns to Staples Center in 2011, a 148-143 win by the West as Kobe Bryant is game MVP, and in 2018, when a squad led by game MVP LeBron James posts a 148-145 win over a team picked by Stephen Curry.

20100621_Lakers_Parade_001-2100x1397-6dffeeeb-90b8-4c0e-bf74-0d12d09467ad.jpg= June 17, 2010: The Lakers’ 83-79 win in Game 7 of the NBA Finals over the Boston Celtics, backed by Kobe Bryant’s 23 points and secured by Ron Artest’s late 3-pointer, captures the franchise’s second title in a row, but their last to this point.


April 13, 2016= April 13, 2016: Kobe Bryant’s 1,346th and final regular-season game happens against Utah, finishing up the worst three-year stretch in franchise history. Bryant responds with a 60-point game to end his 20-year career.

= June 17, 2000: Local Olympic hero Oscar de la Hoya defends his WBC welterweight championship against Pomona’s Sugar Shane Mosely in the first-ever boxing card at Staples Center, billed as “Destiny.” Mosley’s split decision victory nearly leads De La Hoya into near retirement with his $15 million payday. Mosley, who took home $4.5 million, also won a decision in their rematch three years later in Las Vegas.

staples-center-margarito-mosley= Jan. 24, 2009: In front of an arena record of 20,820, “Sugar” Shane Mosley keeps his WBA super heavyweight title from Antonio Margarito with a ninth round TKO. It also makes the 37-year-old, who came in as a 4-1 underdog, the top-ranked welterweight.

= Aug. 11, 2001: The Sparks 82-54 win over Charlotte in Game 2 of the best-of-three final secures their first WNBA title in the league’s fifth season of operation. It caps off a season where the Sparks went 16-0 at home, finished 28-4, and won six of their seven playoff games. Lisa Leslie was the WNBA’s regular-season and finals MVP. Leslie and the Sparks repeat with a 69-66 win over New York in the WNBA title game at Staples Center on Aug. 23, 2002.

= Jan. 6-13, 2002: Michelle Kwan and Todd Eldredge win the women’s and men’s titles at the U.S. World Figure Skating Championships, the first and only time it has been a host to the event as it set the U.S. team for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Sarah Hughes, second to Sasha Cohen at the U.S. championships, ended up winning Olympic gold with Kwan finishing third.


March 14, 2009= March 7-9, 2002: USC falls to Arizona, 81-71, in the first Pac-10 Conference basketball final revived after an 11-season absence. Arizona’s Luke Walton is the event’s Most Outstanding Player, before a capacity crowd of 18,997 in the final and 67,819 in seven games over three days. The event is held at Staples Center for 11 straight seasons, reaching an overall attendance record of 84,447 (in nine games) during Oregon’s run to the title in 2007, before moving to Las Vegas.

= Nov. 6, 2002: Kim Clijsters upsets top-ranked Serena Williams 7-5, 6-3 to win the $3 million WTA Tour Championship at Staples Center, the first of three years in a row. Clijsters also wins it in 2003 and Maria Sharapova wins it in 2004, also over Williams.

= The “firsts”:
= Oct. 20, 1999: First Kings regular season hockey game, vs. Boston.
= Nov. 2, 1999: Clippers first regular-season game, vs. Seattle
= Nov. 3, 1999: Lakers first regular-season game, vs. Vancouver
= April 9, 2000: The Los Angeles Avengers of the Arena Football League make their home debut with a 54-48 win over the Oklahoma Wranglers before 15,928.
= June 5, 2001: First Sparks regular-season game, vs. Cleveland.
= July 30, 2002: Lisa Leslie is the first in WNBA history to dunk during a game.




= Oct. 17, 1999: Bruce Springsteen opens Staples Center with four concerts (through Oct. 23) as part of his “Reunion Tour.” After noting the sound onstage was good, he points out to the skyboxes around the place and remarks about how there are too many of them, and they’re too low. Besides, he says, “you’re supposed to come out of your room to see a rock ‘n’ roll show.”
His set list at this link.


20090707_Michael_Jackson_Memorial_006-2100x1397-1f644b77-11d1-4eae-86cd-6a03803cbf51.jpg= July 7, 2009: Twelve days after his death, a memorial service was held at  Staples Center for Michael Jackson, where songs are performed by Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, Jennifer Hudson, Usher, Jermaine Jackson, and Shaheen Jafargholi. Eulogies were given by Berry Gordy, Brooke Shields and Smokey Robinson, while Queen Latifah read We Had Him, a poem written for the service by Maya Angelou. Jackson’s family gave the final eulogies. His daughter, Paris, tearfully told the crowd, “I just want to say, ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine. And I just want to say I love him… so much.” AEG gave away 17,500 free tickets through a lottery of more than 1.2 million applicants in a 24 hour period.


February 13, 2005= Feb. 23, 2000: The Grammy Awards come to Staples Center for the first time. Christina Aguilera wins best new artist over Britney Spears and Kid Rock. Elton John sings “Philadelphia Freedom” with the Backstreet Boys and Santana’s “Supernatural” is album of the year. Maybe the event is best known for Jennifer Lopez’ iconic low-cut green dress. Staples Center is the Grammy home from 2000-2002, then 2004-2017, then 2019 and schedule to stay through at least 2021.
Note photo above for the Feb. 13, 2005 event: Limos park in the lots across the street from Staples Center, an area now filled with L.A. Live.


2000 Democratic National Convention= Aug. 14-17, 2000: The Democratic National Convention saw Al Gore nominated as the party’s presidential candidate. Notable speakers included Bill Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Ted Kennedy.

= Sept. 9-15, 2001: Madonna’s “Drowned World Tour” arrives for four shows, before and after the 9/11 attacks.

= Jan. 25-26, 2008: Country music superstar Garth Brooks performs an unprecedented five shows in two days to benefit firefighters and wildfire victims in Southern California. The shows sold out in less than an hour and raised more than $9 million for the “Southern California 2008 Fire Relief Campaign,” with proceeds distributed by the McCormick Tribune Foundation.

= Aug. 21, 2015: Taylor Swift has a banner raised in her honor in the Staples Center rafters honoring “Most Sold Out Performances,” unfurled with Kobe Bryant on stage to announce it. The reference is to her “1989 World Tour” for her album, where Staples Center recognized that she had 16 sold out concerts, including five on that trip.

u2-vertical-tour-staples-center= April 5-6 and Nov. 1-2, 2005: U2’s Vertigo Tour has four sold-out shows to promote its “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” album. Sets a record for largest concert attendance at the arena with 20,382.

= Nov. 20, 2006: Barbara Streisand sets the record for highest grossing concert at $5.45 million.

= April 16-17, and Sept. 23, 2009: Britney Spears’ “Circus Tour” arrive. The stops in April generate more than $4 million in revenue, with one more bringing $1.16 million.

= Feb. 6, 2003:  Former President Bill Clinton introduces the Rolling Stones at a free concert for the Natural Resources Defense Council. The Stones circle back in May, 2013 as part of their 50th anniversary tour.

= April 3, 2005: WrestleMania 21 – known as “WrestleMania Goes Hollywood” — is the first held at Staples Center, and a record 20,193 tickets sell out in less than one minute, the fastest in WWE history. Highlights included Batista defeating Triple H to win the World Heavyweight Championship, and John Cena pinning John “Bradshaw” Layfield for the WWE Championship. With a $2.1 million in ticket sales, it’s the highest grossing WWE event at Staples Center.

= March 29/May 26 and 28/June 3 and 5, 2004: Prince’s “Musicology Tour” has five shows.

= Dec. 31, 2015: Motley Crue performs its last tour show ever.

= Aug. 21, 2016: Adele sets a record for most shows in one run with eight performances.

= Aug. 7-9, 2009: Jonas Brothers World Tour with a 140-foot stage in the center of the arena.

= April 11, 2019: A three-hour memorial service for slain rapper Nipsey Hussle draws 20,000. It includes a letter from President Barack Obama, who praised him as a symbol of hope, a eulogy from the Nation of Islam minister Louis Farrakhan and a performance by Stevie Wonder, who called for gun control and an end to violence.

= August 9, 2002: A public memorial service is held for Chick Hearn, allowing fans into Staples Center to walk past his broadcast seat.

91t2749BDcL._RI_SX380_== More media memories: June 27, 1999 — Episode 4 of HBO’s “Arli$$” called “People Are Assets Too” centers around how agent Arliss Michaels is panicked that the Lakers’ move for the Forum to Staples Center may cut him off from his limited court-side seats due to ticket holders with more seniority. Arliss tries to recruit Lakers owner Jerry Buss, along with Dyan Cannon, Chick Hearn, Stu Lantz and Kurt Rambis, into helping him keep his place of prestige as the arena is about to open.

== Other movies and TV stuff featuring Staples Center at one point or another:
“The Tooth Fairy” (2010) with Dwayne Johnson and Ashley Judd, Julie Andrews
used the ice rink
“Fighting With My Family” (2019) with Dwayne Johnson
“Poseidon” (2006) with Richard Dreyfuss, Kurt Russell and Josh Lucas
“The Italian Job” (2003) with Donald Sutherland, Mark Walhberg, Edward Norton, Charlize Theron
= “Modern Family” 2010 episode called “The Kiss” where Phil kisses Goria during an actual Lakers game on the Kiss Cam
= “Entourage” (2004-2007) taped four episodes, including a boxing match where the gang runs into a group of celebrities.
“Celebrity Apprentice” 2017 episode called “I’m Going Full Ballmer”:  Task 9. The teams had to create a high energy presentation to promote the Clippers during a timeout and design a T-shirt for fans. Lisa Leslie lead the project winning team with Boy George and a team led by Ricky Williams was eliminated.




By Tom Hoffarth/Edited by Steve Lowery
Our latest piece for the Long Beach Post focuses on an 83-year-old marathon enthusiast who finds himself more about how to overcome hurdles along the course of life — such as overcoming cancer and dealing today with Parkinson’s Disease.
“To tell you the truth, I’m just happy I can still move through this earth and feel special about myself,” says Tom Pontac, who has run every Long Beach Marathon — and then some, in the race’s incarnations before that 1982 launch. Even if the last few appearances have been scaled back to the 13-mile half-marathon variety. Read more

A sign of the (L.A.) Times: Jay Bilas may have some biases … but it’s all about doing what’s fair in NCAA Land

By Tom Hoffarth
Jay Bilas isn’t leading a self-endorsed 2020 presidential campaign to head up the NCAA’s hierarchy.
It won’t stop others to crusade on his behalf.
Going into 25 years as an ESPN college basketball analyst, Bilas says he doesn’t believe “there’s a snowball’s chance” of him soon replacing NCAA CEO Mark Emmert, entrenched since 2010 and a frequent Bilas social media foil.

But in light of spirited discussion of the California Senate Bill 206 “Fair Pay to Play Act”  that governor Gavin Newsom signed into law last week, and Bilas’ opinions about it traversing the veins of many ESPN shows, it came around to “Pardon the Interruption” co-host Tony Kornheiser to put forth the idea that if changes at the top of college sports’ governing body need to happen, “a guy like Jay Bilas could become the head of the NCAA.”

Why not.
No question mark necessary.
As Bilas ponders that idea in our latest Los Angeles Times media piece, we’ll use this space to flesh out some more about where the 55-year-old former Duke player stands on the SB206 legislation, as well as other things on his radar:

QQQQHow do you process arguments for or against SB206?

A: Sometimes they say: These athletes don’t deserve anything because all the value comes from the school. Meaning: Where would they be without the school? Well, the truth is, from an economic standpoint, that’s absurd. You can apply that logic or lack thereof to coaching. The values of the school and enterprise of the NCAA competition, one might ask why should Coach K make $9 million a year. Of course, he should. That’s what the market dictates. If athletes are allowed the opportunity to take advantage of their worth in the marketplace, it wouldn’t be just Zion Williamson and Tua Tagovailoa who are paid. It would be everyone. The scholarship is the very least that the players are worth. You can’t tell me if Tua is the highest paid athlete at Alabama,  they wouldn’t pay to protect him with an offensive line, with receivers and all that. Look to any pro sport, and that’s the case.
Absolutely, there is value in the schools. But you can make the same claim: Why should Kobe Bryant have made all that money when there was so much value in the Lakers, if there is so much value in the entity?

QQQQLast week you talked about the various ways that athletes — not just Williamson or Tagovaiola — could benefit from SB206. There are many opportunities in the media, for example — the Central Florida football player who was monetizing his image on YouTube for forced to quit, the UCLA gymnast whose routine this spring went viral. How are there examples that go beyond the obvious jerseys and endorsement narratives?

A: There’s no question about that.  I put something out on Twitter an article by a Williams College golfer who wrote a book after taking off a summer and traveling around and playing golf in the lower 48 states. When the NCAA found out, they declared him ineligible, and he had to petition to get it back. What is more educational-based than writing a book? He. Wrote. A. Book. You’d think an education-based organization would celebrate him for that. Read more

A sign of the (L.A.) Times: Oh, Darling, please believe us …

By Tom Hoffarth

For those who missed a bulk of the Dodgers’ regular season games due to a lack of SportsNet L.A. distribution, Ron Darling realizes that he can’t always keep everyone happy with trying to swoop in with a national broadcast.

“I can understand about the frustration from the fans of the local team – their announcers on radio or TV are the caretakers of the club during the summer. Then these gypsies like me come in and do the team’s games at their greatest moments,” said the TBS analyst who’ll start off with the Cardinals-Braves NL Division Series on Thursday while the Dodgers have a home game against the NL wildcard winner later that day. Read more

The lowdown on the Hi-lo: Among the 7 things to do in Long Beach this weekend is the Billie Jean King Library opening and a Sparks playoff game

After closing its doors at the beginning of the year, following a doozy of a move schlepping 300,000 books, furniture and other associated media and materials, the Long Beach Main Library, renamed the Billie Jean King Library, hosts its grand re-opening on  Saturday.

Not only will Billie Jean speak but there will be a BJK memorabilia exhibit. Library tours  start at 11:30 a.m. and go through 4 p.m.

An added bonus: The Dodgers have a Billie Jean King bobblehead night at the stadium on Saturday night to honor one of the newest members of the team’s ownership group.

Meanwhile, the WNBA Sparks have a long history in the Pyramid on the Long Beach State campus, having played several preseason and regular season games there before —the opening game of the 2016 WNBA semifinals between the Sparks and Chicago Sky was held there.  Sparks general manager is Penny Toler  happens to be one of the greatest players in Long Beach State history.

Is it just us or are the Sparks the professional team Long Beach should be pursuing?

Here’s the entire weekend laid out by Steve Lowery and the staff at


A sign of the (L.A.) Times: How did the Clippers come to find Ralph Lawler’s replacement? He was there all along.

By Tom Hoffarth
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George made one big splash for the Clippers this summer.
But the thing that could have a ripple effect for the franchise’s long-term success was how they went forward with the broadcasting roster following the retirement of Ralph Lawler.
Brian Sieman was there all along, having done a dozen years on radio. And the team looked high and low for a “bigger name.” Then decided he was the guy.
It’s an awkward process we try to explain in the latest L.A. Times sports media column with much more between the lines that we could explore.
Could Spero Dedes have gotten this Clippers job? Sure, but he’s also committed to national NFL and college basketball assignments. Like many broadcasters today who want to be more nimble than a symbol of the team’s narrative.
Sieman could have left. He didn’t. And the Clippers are lucky to have him, as we pointed out a while back in the revival of our best-and-worst of L.A. sports broadcasting lists.
The Clippers made the hiring of Sieman as well as Chauncey Billups and Noah Eagle official on Monday with their own press release.
We attempted to ask questions of Gillian Zucker, the Clippers head of business operations who somehow was the point person for this process. She wasn’t available.
So here are some of the things you won’t find in the Clippers release here in the LA Times.  Fasten your seatbelts.
= has Sieman on its latest podcast.


Giving you the (LA) Business (Journal): The bigger picture of how the new Inglewood Stadium (do we have to call it SoFi already?) has added value for eyes in the sky

If you’ve had the chance to land a window seat on any inbound plane for LAX, the view of the 75-percent finished Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Development in Inglewood is quite spectacular.
The white sprawling roof of the 70,000-seat stadium for the Rams and Chargers starting in 2020 makes it now easy to spot from many vantage points in Southern California.
Including overhead.
In talking to LASEC managing director Jason Gannon for a cover story in the latest issue of the Los Angeles Business Journal, the recent naming rights deal with American Airlines for the plaza area was a strategic move because of how many ways this $5 billion venue can be appreciated.
“The most incredible part of the roof and its footprint — it encompasses about a million square feet — is that it speaks to not just the physical scope and size of the project but how it fits appropriately within the entire project.
“Through (the naming rights deal with American Airlines), they were telling us that as their planes were approaching LAX, the No. 1 question from customers who might not be familiar with Los Angeles in general was about the structure they could see below. To us, that speaks not just to the location of the project but in the long term now it creates and elevated view so that you don’t have to be on the site to experience it in so many different ways — that has never been done before.”

IMG_7763As a story in the Wall Street Journal also points out, there are nearly 200,000 passengers on flights coming into and out of L.A. each day.
A link to a brief version of the LABJ story, with more available in the print edition.


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