My visit to Staples Center Star Plaza occurred based on proximity and timing. This was not something that was on my list of things to do and only happened because there was an open time slot before a scheduled adventure. I was in California on a 5 stop baseball tour so that is all that I was focused on during my time in California.
With there being some free time before the Dodgers game, my wife and I decided to visit The Grammy Museum. With me not being familiar with the landscape of Los Angeles, I was not aware of Staples Center being across the street from The Grammy Museum. This unplanned activity created an opportunity to visit on of the most famous venues and see what it has to offer for sports fans.
Being able to see the history of the game in person was something that caught my attention. The first statue that I noticed was the LA Kings 50th Anniversary Monument. It displays a wall of various historical moments in team history. The wall displays Rogie Vachon mid-save, Jonathan Quick stopping a goal and Drew Doughty passing the puck for the game winner and winning the Stanley Cup. Marcel Dionne, Dave Taylor, Rob Blake piece together the shot on goal while Anze Kopitar celebrates and Dustin Brown hoists the Stanley Cup.
The next string of statues display Wayne Gretzky, Oscar De La Hoya and Luc Robitaille or as they are affectionately known “The Great One” “The Golden Boy” and “Lucky”. Gretzky played his LA Kings career at The Forum but with the career that he put together he was worthy of recognizing regardless of venue. For that reason alone is why Wayne “The Great One” Gretzky was the first statue placed outside of Staples Center. Oscar De La Hoya was the most controversial statue placed outside of Staples Center as it was the third one to be placed outside of the venue. De La Hoya only participated in one fight at Staples Center so this controversy has validity. The statue of the greatest LA King and highest scoring left wing in NHL history came with no controversy as “Lucky” Luc Robitaille was the seventh statue placed in Star Plaza.
The statues of the Lakers greats are the main attraction as all of the statues feature Naismith and Lakers Hall of Fame basketball players. The backcourt statues feature Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Jerry “Mr. Clutch” West. Magic Johnson was the second statue erected outside of Staples Center and was well deserved. Magic helped revitalize NBA basketball in the 80’s as he aided the Showtime era Lakers. Jerry West is the NBA logo and his Lakers tenure made him an unquestioned first ballot hall of famer. Jerry was Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside for the Lakers and earned being the fifth statue erected at Staples. Magic and Jerry are two of the greatest ever and being able to read their accomplishments on their statues was something to behold.
The statues of the men in the middle feature Cap and Diesel. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal are two of the greatest big men in history. The statue of Kareem was sixth erected at Staples and the most anticipated statue. Kareem is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and arguably the greatest to ever play the game when adding in his High School and College accomplishments to his gaudy NBA accomplishments. Shaq was 1/2 of Showtime 2.0 that brought 3 championships to the Lakers. His statue is by far the most interesting as it hangs from the side of the building. He is performing his trademark hanging dunk as he became the eighth honoree at Staples Center.
Francis Dale “Chick” Hearn was the fourth honoree of Star Plaza when his statue was erected in 2010. He is the only honoree to not be alive at the time of statue reveal. The Naismith Hall of Fame announcer served as the voice of the Lakers from 1957 until 2002 and was the creator of many Chickisms. He is also famous for the nicknames that he created for Lakers players over the years that have become their household nicknames. I am also appreciative of Chick Hearn’s legacy as I get to share a set with the legend as I tell my sports story.