When the division-leading Los Angeles Clippers were set to face off against the Philadelphia 76ers, to say one team was favored would be an understatement. After all, the Clippers are near the top of the Western conference while the 76ers are scraping the bottom of the Eastern Conference. What followed that night was a blowout of historic proportions. The Clippers won by 45 points and led by 31 points after the first quarter, the largest lead after the opening quarter in franchise history. It was the Los Angeles Clippers’ twenty-second win at home, a number of wins topped only by the Indiana Pacers and the Oklahoma City Thunder. But the Clippers’ record at the Staples Center only continues the story of a city and an arena where the home team dominates, no matter what the sport.
The Staples Center is home to four professional sports teams: The Los Angeles Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association, the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League, and the Los Angeles Sparks of the Women’s National Basketball Association. With a combined record of 62 wins and 33 losses, the four teams have shown opponents little mercy when they enter the 950,000 square foot arena. Only the Lakers have a losing record at the Staples Center this season, getting eight wins in their 22 attempts there. The Clippers and the Sparks only have a combined seven losses in 37 games at the Staples Center, a dominant record for the teams and the city.
Los Angeles Lakers’ star, Kobe Bryant, has said he “draws a lot from the fans” attending games at the Staples Center and his sentiments are echoed by many athletes that have played in Los Angeles. During the Kings’ Stanley Cup parade, where thousands of fans flooded the area around the Staples Center, Kings’ forward Dustin Penner said the fan support is “amazing” and that it was nice to put faces on the cheers they had heard all year long.
The arena was opened in 1999 in downtown Los Angeles and quickly replaced The Forum, located in Inglewood, California, as the home arena for the Clippers, Lakers and Kings. The Sparks made the move from The Forum to the Staples Center just three years later. Its inaugural event was a Bruce Springsteen concert, though the newly installed sound system left many concert goers upset and disappointed with the “muffled sound”. Outside the arena, there are six statues that honor Los Angeles greats past and present, including hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and long-time Lakers’ broadcaster, Chick Hearn, with his headset on and still sitting at his desk.
It is an arena that has hosted many events during its 15-year tenure, including 11 championship series, three all-star games, the 2010 NHL draft, and the 2000 Democratic National Convention. It has seen three championship trophies won inside its walls, the Lakers winning the NBA championship in 2000 and 2010 and the Kings’ Stanley Cup victory in 2012. The Kings’ run through the playoffs that year saw only three losses at the Staples Center. With the Los Angeles Clippers looking like strong contenders this year, that city dominance at the Staples Center is sure to continue.
By Jonathan Gardner