The Staples Center’s name change will NOT erase the history Kobe Bryant made inside the building … so says Kenny “The Jet” Smith, who tells TMZ Sports fans will get over the big switch once the Lakers build a statue honoring the Black Mamba.
The iconic venue will officially be referred to as Crypto.com Arena starting Christmas Day … as part of an insane $700 million deal.
While it’s good news for the team (that’s a LOT of money), some fans are livid with the move … especially because Staples is often referred to as “The House That Kobe Built.”
We spoke with the “Inside The NBA” analyst about the switch … and he thinks Laker Nation will forget all about the gripe once Kobe gets honored outside the venue — no matter what it’s called.
“The statue outside with Kobe in front, that’ll settle everything down,” The Jet told us Wednesday. “Still, the name of the arena always changes, but what happens inside of it never changes.”
Of course, Kobe is the first Laker to have two jerseys retired in the organization … with both #8 and #24 hanging in the rafters.
Kobe’s statue will one day join names like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, Magic Johnson and more outside the venue … and Smith’s certain it’ll mean just as much to fans even if the Staples name is gone.