LOS ANGELES – The Staples Center is celebrating its 20th birthday in style, as the new epicenter of the basketball universe.
As two favorites for the NBA Championship, both the Lakers and Clippers look to bring 82 nights of excellent competition to their home arena.
If the walls of this arena could talk, Lee Zeidman would be their voice. Zeidman was the first ever full time employee at the Staples Center and 20 years later he is still calling the shots as president.
“At the end of the day I’m still doing exactly what I want, where I want, and when I want. Not a lot of people can say that,” says Zeidman.
He has been on board since groundbreaking.
“I’ve seen 5,400 events. I’ve listened to over 3,300 national anthems,” said Zeidman.
The president of Staples Center has walked these halls from their beginnings. Descending into the bowels of Staples Center, it is clear his career elevator ride has carried him to the top.
Zeidman made stops in venue management at Cal State Northridge, University of California Los Angeles, and University of California Santa Barbara. For a man who loves entertainment and sports, this is the pinnacle.
The Staples Center could have a hallway series come the Western Conference Finals. Seven NBA Finals have played out in this building. This could be the year for number eight.
Zeidman knows every face and every inch of this building, down to the ash trays in the smoking lounge built for Jack Nicholson.
“You know the times I’m in this room having a cigar… are after a major event,” said Zeidman.
Whether he is routing for the Clippers or the Lakers? Zeidman said he supports the “home team.”
This is the home of the basketball center of the universe, and Zeidman has the keys.