Lakers' locker room turned into Clippers ownership lounge

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LOS ANGELES – With the Los Angeles Lakers out of the playoffs, Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is using the Lakers’ locker room at Staples Center as an owner’s lounge during the postseason.

The Lakers and Clippers share the Staples Center, along with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks, and the arena gained permission from the Lakers and Kings to use their locker rooms during the postseason. The Kings' locker room is being used for the San Antonio Spurs' ownership in the first round after the Kings missed the postseason for the first time since 2009. The Sparks' locker room is being used as a press conference room.

“We always go to the teams to get permission before we use their locker room,” Staples Center President Lee Zeidman told ESPN.com on Tuesday. “In the playoffs, for example, when the Kings had their big Stanley Cup run last season, we would go to the Clippers and Lakers and tell them, 'We’re looking for some hospitality space, is it OK if we use your locker rooms?' We always get permission.”

The locker rooms are almost unrecognizable when Staples Center uses them for hospitality space, with black carpeting protecting the floor and black drapes covering the walls.

“We protect the locker rooms,” Zeidman said. “We carpet over them existing carpet and pipe in drapes and make sure nothing happens within the rooms, and the building takes full responsibility for it. It’s the building that asks the teams. It’s not the teams that go to the other teams. The building always asks for approval. The Kings and Lakers granted us approval, and we’re using their locker rooms for additional hospitality spaces, i.e., for Clippers ownership and for Spurs ownership.”

Throughout the year, Staples Center uses the team locker rooms for the Grammys, the NCAA West Regionals and various concerts. The Lakers' locker room is next to the Clippers' locker room, and the Kings' locker room is next to the visiting NBA team’s locker room, which is why the Clippers ownership lounge is in the Lakers' locker room and the Spurs ownership lounge is in the Kings' locker room, Zeidman said.

“This isn’t the Clippers commandeering the Lakers' locker room or dissing the Lakers, or even dissing the Kings for that matter,” Zeidman said. “We are a very multipurpose building. We have a lot of traffic and activity in the building, and we built it to use spaces when they’re not being used for other functions, and that’s what we’re doing.”

The Lakers and Clippers have shared the Staples Center since it opened in 1999, making them the only teams in the NBA to share the same arena. The Clippers irked many Lakers fans before last season when they put banners of seven of their players over the Lakers' championship banners and retired numbers.

“Listen, I think this is our arena when we play,” Doc Rivers said last season. “So I just thought it would be good that we show our guys. No disrespect to [the Lakers]. But when we play, it's the Clippers' arena, as far as I know.”