Staples Center a Busy Hoops Haven

LOS ANGELES -- No arena in the world comes close to hosting as many NBA games as Staples Center every year.

That's largely because Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles is the only arena to be the home court for two NBA teams--the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers. It's also the home court of the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks.

The 19,000-seat state-of-the-art arena opened in 1999 on Figueroa Street on the southwest side of downtown. The Clippers and Lakers share the arena, but it was the Lakers who christened Staples Center almost immediately when they won the NBA championship in each of their first three seasons at Staples Center. They have since won two more.

Located right in the middle of the world's entertainment capital, Staples Center is often in the spotlight. Before Lakers games, the song "I Love L.A." is played to an approving crowd. Celebrities like Jack Nicholson, Chris Rock and Tom Petty often are seen at games.

Staples Center was the host of the 2004 NBA All-Star Game, and was home to the 2011 NBA All-Star Game as well. Beyond pro basketball, Staples Center is the home of the Pac-10 men's basketball tournament every year, as well as occasional high school basketball games.

When it's not used for hoops, it's filled with fans for concerts, Los Angeles Kings hockey games, the X Games, the Grammy Awards and boxing matches. The 2000 Democratic National Convention and Michael Jackson's public memorial service in 2009 were also at Staples Center.

Thanks to the Lakers and Clippers, though, Staples Center is largely thought of as one of the best--and busiest--basketball arenas in the world. Before Staples Center opened, the Lakers played in nearby Inglewood at the Great Western Forum, while the Clippers played up the road at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena after moving to L.A. in 1984.

Despite having never played there, a statue of Magic Johnson is outside of the venue, and his jersey number hangs from the Staples Center rafters along with six others--Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, Gail Goodrich, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West. There's also a tribute to the Lakers' 16 NBA championships--five of which have been won while at Staples Center.

It's still just a youngster compared to arenas like Madison Square Garden or The Palace of Auburn Hills, but Staples Center has already cemented its spot as one of basketball's most important--and historic--venues.

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