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Russell Westbrook reacts to Staples Center name change to Arena

A Los Angeles native, Russell Westbrook had a similar type of reaction to most of the city about the announcement of Staples Center’s impending name change.

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San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

For Lakers, Kings, Clippers and Sparks fans, Tuesday night’s news of an impending name change for Staples Center name change came as a complete shock. Not only was it unexpected news of a change for an iconic building in Los Angeles, but that it was being renamed Arena — a clumsy moniker that hardly rolls off the tongue — only added to the bewilderment.

A pair of prominent athletes that play in the arena on a nearly nightly basis also happen to be Los Angeles natives in the Lakers Russell Westbrook and the Clippers Paul George. Fittingly, both were asked for their thoughts.

“Honestly, the business side of basketball and how deals go down, obviously as players we don’t know exactly what happens or how it goes down,” Westbrook said following Wednesday’s game against the Bucks. “We kind of just see it like everybody else, like we saw it today and not really knowing the details of it.

“But it’s the Staples Center. The Staples Center’s got so many great memories just for me as a kid growing up in LA. So many great things has happened in that building. Regardless of the name, the building is still (the building). It’s the building and that’s what’s most important and that’s all you can think about.”

George shared a similar sentiment after his game on Tuesday following the Clippers win over the Spurs (via Sabreena Merchant/ClipsNation):

“It’d be weird. I grew up, this being STAPLES, and STAPLES being the place to play and the place to be. It’ll definitely be weird. It’s just, it’s the same location, but it’s kind of like just stripping the history here by calling it something else.... Good thing we won’t be here too long, so, we’ll be at our own place. So it is what it is, I guess.”

There will be little time to warm up to the name change as it will go into effect on Dec. 25, just in time for the Lakers’ premier showdown with the Brooklyn Nets that will certainly be one of the most-watched games of the year.

The deal — worth $700 million — reflects the importance and history of Staples Center. Despite being a building that is more than 20 years old, it landed what was believed to be the largest U.S. venue naming rights of all-time, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. And as inelegant as the new name is, at least it already has a great alternative nickname:

Still, it’ll be an odd transition for fans, players and Los Angeles residents in general, from things like the iconic name on the outside of the building to the branding all around the arena. And to continue Westbrook’s thought, fans will just hope that this next chapter for the arena will feature even more Lakers banners hanging from the rafters, no matter what we ultimately call the arena they’re raised in.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.

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