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You Don’t Have to Call Staples Center by Its Goofy New Name

In Wednesday’s Hot Clicks: the new name for the Lakers’ arena, Canada’s big win over Mexico and more.

Nobody’s paying you to call it that

When the Lakers host the Nets on Christmas night, it won’t be at Staples Center. Beginning that day, the arena on South Figueroa Street will be known as Crypto.com Arena as part of a naming rights deal believed to be worth more than $700 million.

The arena has been known as Staples Center since it opened in 1999. Among NBA arenas, only Chicago’s United Center has been known by one name for longer (since 1994). The office supply store struck a deal in 2009 to hold the naming rights in perpetuity but AEG, the venue’s owner, bought back the right to find a new sponsor in 2019.

The new name will obviously take some getting used to, especially because it’s so silly. You may already be familiar with Crypto.com (a cryptocurrency website) thanks to an ad that has aired incessantly on TV since the end of October in which Matt Damon delivers an overwrought monologue about being bold and taking chances. “Fortune favors the brave” is the ad’s tagline. I guess the idea is that, like European explorers or the Wright brothers, you should be brave and exchange your U.S. legal tender for digital coins whose value fluctuates wildly and are generated using obscene amounts of electricity.

As a sportswriter who almost failed an economics class in college, I find Crypto.com’s website to be entirely inscrutable. It touts that you can trade more than 150 cryptocurrencies and load your blockchain money onto a debit card. (If you keep over $400,000 in your Crypto.com account for more than six months, the debit card gives you access to a private jet, but you’re still only allowed to withdraw a maximum of $1,000 from ATMs each month.) You can also “swap DeFi coins and earn Triple Yield” and “earn up to 14.5% p.a. rewards on your coins.”

But here’s the thing: You don’t have to know what any of this means because you don’t have to give a crap about Crypto.com just because it paid a ton of money to plaster its name on one of the most famous arenas in sports. No one’s paying you to call a stadium by its official name. The official policy of the excellent sport site Defector is to not identify stadiums by their sponsored names, and it’s an approach I wish more sites would take. Nothing is lost in eschewing “Citizens Bank Park” in favor of “the Phillies’ ballpark.” In fact, it can make things easier for the reader to understand. If I told you the Nuggets played the Suns at Footprint Center, do you know where the game was? Probably not. (That’s the name of the arena in Phoenix as of July.)

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The folks at Crypto.com are undoubtedly thrilled about all the conversation around the arena’s new name, even if most of it has been mocking. But how many Lakers, Clippers and Kings fans will actually refer to it by that name going forward? Not many, I’d bet. But I promise I’ll use the new name if Crytpo.com pays me a healthy sum (in U.S. dollars). 

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Email dan.gartland@si.com with any feedback or follow me on Twitter for approximately one half-decent baseball joke per week. Bookmark this page to see previous editions of Hot Clicks and find the newest edition every day. By popular request I’ve made a Spotify playlist of the music featured here. Visit our Extra Mustard page throughout each day for more offbeat sports stories.