Lakers’ Russell Westbrook jokes Staples Center will soon be called ‘Crip Arena’

So, Russell Westbrook, you attended Lawndale Leuzinger High and UCLA and grew up a Lakers fan who watched the Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant duo do so much damage at Staples Center.

So, what do you think about Staples Center changing its name to Crypto.com Arena?

“The Crip … What’d you said, the Crip Arena?”

Westbrook laughed at his own joke.

Like many on social media — and like many longtime Lakers fans and NBA fans in general — Westbrook was having fun when asked after Wednesday night’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks what he thought about Staples Center becoming Crypto.com Arena.

“I didn’t know what you said. My bad,” Westbrook joked, still laughing. “I thought you said the Crip Arena.”

Westbrook broke into a crip walk dance during a game earlier this season and has made a few Crip references during interviews. The crip walk began as a gang dance but has since been adopted throughout hip-hop culture as a celebration of Compton roots. The dance was featured in the movie “You Got Served” and Serena Williams is among many athletes who have done the dance to celebrate big moments.

And now a variation of it can be added to the long list of nicknames for the building that O’Neal and Bryant made famous during their three-peat championship run with the Lakers, the building where “Big Shot Rob” Horry drilled one of his iconic winning three-point shots in the playoffs against the Sacramento Kings in 2002, the building in which Bryant dropped an amazing 81 points on the Toronto Raptors in 2006. The venue will be known as the Crypto.com Arena beginning on Dec. 25.

A rendering of the Staples Center after the completion of its rebranding as Crypto.com Arena.

(Crypto.com)

“Yeah, you know, honestly the business side of basketball and how deals go down, obviously as players we don’t know exactly what happens and how it goes down,” Westbrook said. “We kind of just see it like everybody else and we saw it today, not really knowing the details of it. But it’s the Staples Center. The Staples Center has got so many great memories, just for me as a kid, growing up in L.A. So many great things have happened in that building. Regardless of the name, the building is still the building and that’s what’s most important and that’s all you can think about.”

The Lakers started playing at Staples Center in 1999, winning six of their 18 NBA championships while playing in the building, two of those titles — against Indiana in 2000 and Boston in 2010 — won on that court.

The last Lakers championship was won in 2020, but that took place in the bubble at ESPN Wide World of Sports near Orlando, Fla., but this group knows about all the magic that has been created inside Staples Center.

“Yeah, it’s tough, you know what I mean? Lakers fans and really sports fans in general obviously know that building as the Staples Center,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “I understand the disappointment the fans will have. But that’s just the way of world. This is the business we’re in. Almost universally around the country there’s a business element to naming rights for the arenas. It’s really out of our control.”

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