Good Night, LA

It all started with such promise a couple of weeks back.  For only the fourth time in the quarter-century existence of the downtown Los Angeles arena once known as the Staples Center and now inexplicably still with a name that salutes the dying art of cryptocurrency, all three of its mainstream professional sports tenants were involved in simultaneous playoff series.

When it first happened in 2012, it was downright historic and newsworthy, as the NEW YORK TIMES’ Howard Beck reported at the time:

There will be blood — and sweat and pucks and balls and spokes and triumph and anguish and a bit of Thunder — all on a single street corner, all in a frantic and fascinating 72 hours in downtown Los Angeles. Starting Thursday night, the building will host six playoff games in four days: two by the N.H.L.’s Kings and two each the N.B.A.’s Lakers and Clippers, with doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday. 

And the combantants held up their end of the bargain by each winning their first round series, with the Kings eventually going on to win their first Stanley Cup in their then 45-year history.   When the same thing happened again the following year, it was a lot less newsworthy but no less hectic.  The Lakers were by that point sputtering and were swept out in four by the eventual NBA champion San Antonio Spurs, but the Clips and Kings both advanced.  And then, a ten-year lull finally broken last year, made all the more exciting by the Lakers’ unexpected run to the Western Conference finals under rookie coach Darvin Ham.

So when the confluence occurred last month, it was still momentus enough for the Left Angeles TIMES to consider it newsworthy once more, as hockey writer Kevin Baxter observed:

The Kings share Crypto.com Arena with two NBA teams, the Lakers and Clippers, and all three are in the first round of their respective playoff tournaments at the same time for just the fourth season. They may be staring down a shot at history as well — history Lee Zeidman, president of the building the Kings play in, has been chasing for decades. And while the arena has played host to seven NBA Finals and two Stanley Cup Finals, it has never had both championship series in the same year.

And it never will, because this past week, one by one, each of Zeidman’s tenants saw their seasons end in unceremonious road losses.  And for the first and only time in the four triple-threat years, all three teams are exiting without a single series win.

On Monday night, the Lakers were ousted by Denver on yet another Jamal Murray buzzer-beater.  Wednesday night, the Kings were eliminated for the third consecutive season by the Edmonton Oilers.  And last night, per the ASSOCIATED PRESS’ Schuyler Dixon, the final nail in Crypto.com’s coffin was hammered in:

On a night when the Clippers were again playing without one of their stars, they needed more from the healthy ones in order to extend their season.

As it turned out, they didn’t get enough from either one.

Luka Doncic had 28 points and 13 assists and Kyrie Irving scored 28 of his 30 points in a second-half surge while Paul George and James Harden endured a poor shooting night as the Dallas Mavericks finished off the Clippers with a 114-101 victory in Game 6 of their first-round playoff series on Friday night.

George had 18 points on 6-for-18 shooting (2 for 10 from 3-point range) to go with 11 rebounds for the Clippers, who won the first two times they played without All-Star Kawhi Leonard in the series but didn’t have enough scoring punch in the last two he was sidelined by right knee inflammation.

Harden had 16 points and 13 assists but was just 5 for 16 from the field and missed all six of his 3-point attempts as the Clippers were eliminated in the first round for the second consecutive season despite the early-season trade for the 10-time All-Star.

A lot of emotions and things going through my mind right now,” Harden said.

But probably not as many as were going through the mind of Darvin Ham, because earlier in the day fellow AP writer Greg Beacham filed this breaking but hardly unexpected news item:

The Los Angeles Lakers fired coach Darvin Ham on Friday after just two seasons in charge.

The Lakers announced on social media that they were dismissing Ham four days after their season ended with a first-round playoff loss to Denver in five games.

And not only will Ham not be returning to Crypto.com this fall, neither will the Clippers.  They are headed west just south of SoFi Stadium and in the shadow of the Lakers and Kings’ former Forum home and will open up their own arena, the Intuit Dome.   And based upon an even more one-sided loss to the Mavs on Wednesday night, a 123-93 shellacking that will go down as their final home game ever in downtown, I have a hunch even Zeidman won’t be missing them all that much.

Besides, he’s gonna have help whoever the Lakers’ brass–or Lebron James, depending upon what side of the story surrounding Ham’s dismissal one believes–show the new guy around.  Heck, even Mike D’Antoni was able to keep his job the last time the Lakers didn’t live up to their end of a three-team parlay–the likes of which we will likely never see again in our lifetimes.

As Baxter reminded his readers in his piece:

It’s been 21 years since the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, N.J., followed Madison Square Garden, the Boston Garden, Chicago Stadium and the Spectrum and became the last venue to stage both the basketball and hockey championship series in the same season.  That was so long ago neither the arena nor the airline it was named after are still in business.

And given the shape the two remaining tenants now find themselves in, I’m willing to bet that at least one of those occurrences will befall Crypto.Com Arena before even one of them hosts another league final.

Good night, LA.

Courage…

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