Lakers’ top 10 Staples Center moments as era set to begin

Kobe Bryant stands on the scorers' table at Staples Center after the Lakers defeated the Celtics to win the NBA championship.
Kobe Bryant stands on the scorers’ table at Staples Center after the Lakers defeated the Celtics to win the 2010 NBA championship at Staples Center.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

For the first time since it opened in 1999, the sports venue in downtown Los Angeles will have a name other than Staples Center. Starting Saturday, it will be known as Arena, as part of a 20-year deal between the Singapore cryptocurrency exchange and AEG.

To commemorate the end of an era, our writers have compiled their top 10 Staples Center moments for each of the teams — the Lakers, Clippers, Sparks and Kings — that call the building home.

Today: The Lakers


For the record:

9:28 p.m. Dec. 25, 2021In an earlier version of this story, cellist Ben Hong from the Los Angeles Philharmonic was misidentified as Yo-Yo Ma.


June 4, 2000

Before their relationship would be defined by a power struggle and a separation, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal were totally in sync when they combined for one of the most famous plays in team history. With the clock running down in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals against the Portland Trail Blazers, Bryant threw a perfect lob pass for O’Neal, who hung in the air and slammed it home to seal a win, pushing the Lakers to their first title inside Staples Center.


June 19, 2000

Lakers' Kobe Bryant holds the Larry O'Brian trophy as teammate Shaquille O'Neal holds the MVP trophy.
Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, left, holds the Larry O’Brian trophy as teammate Shaquille O’Neal holds the MVP trophy after winning the NBA championship against Indiana Pacers on June 19, 2000.
(AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

O’Neal caps a dominant series against the Indiana Pacers by scoring 41 points in a game during which he sat just 31 seconds. It was the Lakers’ first title since 1988 and came with O’Neal unanimously winning Finals MVP. It finished off an incredible season for O’Neal where he won regular season MVP and finished second in voting for defensive player of the year.


Dec. 20, 2005

Bryant torched the Dallas Mavericks — a very good team — for 62 points, sitting the entire fourth quarter. The performance was even more special because the entirety of the Mavericks managed 61 points during the same time, with Bryant out-shooting Dallas before leaving the game.


Jan. 22, 2006

Lakers' Kobe Bryant drives past Toronto Raptors' Jalen Rose and Chris Bosh.
Lakers’ Kobe Bryant drives past the Toronto Raptors’ Jalen Rose, left, and Chris Bosh in the fourth quarter on Jan. 22, 2006 at Staples Center.
(Matt A. Brown / Associated Press)

A kind of sleepy night at Staples Center against a below average Toronto Raptors team became a legendary one as Bryant turned in one of the best offensive performances in NBA history. Bryant scored an outrageous 81 points against the Raptors, a celebration of his all-around offensive mastery. In typical Bryant fashion, the crazy offensive barrage brought the Lakers from behind and earned his team the win.


April 30, 2006

Down one against the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs, the two teams gathered at midcourt for a jump ball with less than 10 seconds left in overtime. The Lakers won the tip and Bryant hustled up the court, quickly zagging left and rising at the right elbow for a perfectly swished jumper to win the game at the buzzer. As he walked off the court, Bryant howled and pulled his jersey to the side, uncovering his heart.


May 26, 2002

Robert Horry floated at the top of the key, the Lakers’ backs totally against the wall in a series with the Sacramento Kings when an offensive rebound got tipped into his hands. “Big Shot Bob” drilled the jumper to tie the Western Conference finals 2-2. Some say it’s the loudest Staples Center ever got.


June 17, 2010

Kobe Bryant celebrates the Lakers' Game 7 victory over the Boston Celtics in the 2010 NBA finals at Staples Center.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

The NBA’s two most historic franchises, the Lakers and the Boston Celtics, met in the NBA Finals and battled to Game 7. Inside a nerve-filled Staples Center, the two teams repeatedly fought for every point with the pressure mounting. Despite shooting 32.5%, the Lakers pulled out the win. The night ended with confetti falling on Bryant as he celebrated the title.


April 13, 2016

The version of Bryant that took the court for the final game of his 20-year career wasn’t recognizable, injuries robbing him of his athleticism and the Lakers’ talent erosion keeping him from winning. But one last time, Bryant went to a special place, shooting on nearly every touch while the crowd goaded him into giving more. He scored 60, with his peers who idolized him around the NBA watching with their jaws dropped.


Jan. 31, 2020


Five days after Bryant’s tragic death, fans returned to Staples Center to watch basketball and to collectively grieve. Outside the building, tributes to Bryant — artwork, jerseys, sneakers, basketballs — filled the streets as fans wept with one another. Inside, before a loss to the Trail Blazers, Angelenos gathered to say goodbye. From Ben Hong to Usher performing musical tributes to a speech from LeBron James, the building was wrapped in sadness in a way that stands alone.


Feb. 24, 2020

Almost a month after a tragic helicopter accident took their lives, Staples Center once again became home for a memorial service. This one honored Kobe and Gianna Bryant, complete with a performance from Beyoncé and eulogies from Vanessa Bryant, O’Neal and, in a surprise, Michael Jordan.