'The House That Kobe Built': Vanessa Bryant, others react to Staples Center name change

Fans arrive early outside Staples Center for the 'Celebration of Life 'for Kobe and Gianna Bryant
Fans arrive early outside Staples Center for the 'Celebration of Life' for Kobe and Gianna Bryant on Feb. 24, 2020. (Andrew Gombert / Los Angeles Times)

Since it opened in 1999, the downtown venue where the Lakers play their home games has been known as Staples Center.

Starting on Christmas Day, it will be known as Arena.

But no matter what corporate name hangs outside the building, it will always be known as something else in the hearts of Lakers fans.

As Vanessa Bryant wrote to go with a photo of Staples Center on her Instagram story: "Forever known as 'The House That Kobe Built.'"

That photo also featured a photo of her late husband, Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, with a giant crown above his head.

Kobe Bryant played all 20 of his NBA seasons with the Lakers, who called Staples their home for the final 17 of those years. Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal led the Lakers to NBA titles in each of the venue's first three seasons. Bryant and Pau Gasol led L.A. to two more championships in 2009 and 2010.

Staples Center became a gathering place for grieving fans following Bryant's death in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, 2020. A public memorial service for Bryant and 13-year-old daughter Gianna, who was one of eight other victims in the crash, was held at the venue on Feb. 24, 2020.

The Clippers also call the building home (their new arena, Intuit Dome, is scheduled to open in 2024). Point guard Reggie Jackson pointed to memories of Bryant and O'Neal hanging banners at Staples as a reason why he might struggle embracing a new name.

“They have their history here,” Jackson said after the Clippers' win over San Antonio on Wednesday. “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.”

Since the news broke Wednesday night, folks have been reacting to the new name on social media. Some of the posts are heartfelt, like Vanessa Bryant's. Some express sorrow or anger. Others make fun of the rather unusual new name that comes from a Singapore cryptocurrency exchange. And others react to what is sure to become the venue's nickname: The Crypt.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.