On this day 20 years ago, the Staples Center opened.
But it wasn’t basketball that christened the new home for LA hoops. Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band had that honor.
In the $375 million arena’s first-ever public event, Springsteen and his band performed on Oct. 17, 1999, two days before it hosted its inaugural sporting event: a hockey game between the Los Angeles King and Boston Bruins, which ended in a 2-2 tie.
It wouldn’t be until Nov. 2, 1999, that Staples Center would hold a basketball game. The Clippers were granted opening rights and spent them losing to the Seattle SuperSonics, 104-92. Their in-city counterparts, the Lakers, provided Los Angeles with its first home basketball win the next day, defeating the Vancouver Grizzlies, 103-88.
Over the years, Staples Center has played home to the Grammy Awards since 2004, was the venue for the 2000 Democratic National Convention, a Stanley Cup win in 2012, Travis Pastrana’s double backflip in 2006, and so many more massive concerts, fights and other events. On top of it all, though, it has seen some incredible basketball.
Some of the greatest players and teams from the last 20 years have hooped regularly at Staples Center. For its first three seasons, the arena hosted the NBA’s champion each year as the Lakers reigned over the NBA with an iron fist as that era’s dynasty. Even after the highly-publicized departure of Shaq, Kobe and Phil Jackson brought even more glory to the arena at the decades’ transition.
Now, Staples Center is again the host of some of the biggest names in the game. LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins and more great players will call Staples Center their home court this coming season. For as fantastic of a history as the arena already has in its first two decades of life, there are plenty more stories for Staples Center to write.