Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the tournament.
The first round of voting in the basketball regional “Biggest Icon in L.A. Sports History” is over, and the response was overwhelming. We received over 25,000 votes in the basketball regional alone. Today, voting in the second round begins and the matchups are intriguing.
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1. There are four regionals, with 32 people in each regional, seeded from No. 1 to No. 32. The winner of each regional will face off in the Final Four. Those two winners will meet in the championship round.
3. When voting, ask yourself “When I think L.A. sports, whom do I think of first?” and vote for that person.
4. A brief sentence or two accompanies each entrant below. It is not meant to be an all-encompassing list of their accomplishments, just a brief reminder of why they are on this list.
So without further ado, let’s get to the second round of the basketball regional. Voting ends at midnight Sunday. Remember, you can vote by email by clicking here, on Twitter by clicking here, or you can click on the link after each matchup.
Biggest L.A. Sports Icon tournament, second round (basketball regional)
No. 1 Magic Johnson vs. No. 16 Cheryl Miller
Magic Johnson: Led the Lakers to five NBA titles and was the floor general behind the “Showtime” era. Now part-owner of the Dodgers and noted businessman.
How he got here: Magic routed Paul Westphal in the first round, 98.6%-1.4%
Cheryl Miller: The Trojans produced three of the greatest women’s basketball players of all time, and Miller was the trailblazer. She was named the college player of the year three times and led the team to the title in 1983 and 1984, being named tournament MVP both times. USC retired her No. 31 in 1986, becoming the first Trojans basketball player, male or female, to have that honor. And, she once scored 105 points in a game while playing for Riverside Poly High.
How she got here: Miller defeated Gail Goodrich in the first round, 62.6%-37.4%
No. 2 John Wooden vs. No. 15 Pat Riley
John Wooden: The legendary UCLA men’s basketball coach guided the team to 10 national titles, including seven in a row. Renowned for his “Pyramid of Success.”
How he got here: Wooden defeated Chris Paul in the first round, 92.5%-7.5%
Pat Riley: With his slicked-back hair and designer suits, Riley added more style to the “Showtime” Lakers. After winning the title in 1987, he famously guaranteed the Lakers would repeat as champions the following season. They did. Also spent six seasons as a player with the Lakers and was a member of the 1972 title team.
How he got here: Riled defeated Marques Johnson in the first round, 89.5%-10.5%
No. 3 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar vs. No. 14 Phil Jackson
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Played at UCLA from 1966 to 1969 and was twice named player of the year (1967, 1969). Led Bruins to three consecutive NCAA titles. Became a Laker in 1975 and was the central force for five NBA title teams.
How he got here: Abdul-Jabbar defeated Reggie Miller in the first round, 98.6%-1.4%
Phil Jackson: The Lakers had a series of coaches after Pat Riley left that didn’t really capture the fancy of Lakers fans. That all changed when they lured Jackson, the coach of the Chicago Bulls dynasty, to L.A. With his calm demeanor and Zen-like sayings, he guided the team to five more titles.
How he got here: Jackson defeated Derek Fisher in the first round, 77.9%-22.1%
No. 4 Kobe Bryant vs. No. 13 Wilt Chamberlain
Kobe Bryant: All he did with the Lakers is lead them to five titles, make 18 All-Star teams, win a league MVP award and be named to the all-defensive team 12 times.
How he got here: Bryant defeated Harold Miner in the first round, 98.5%-1.5%
Wilt Chamberlain: One of the greatest players in NBA history, Chamberlain spent the final five seasons of his career with the Lakers, helping lead them to the title in 1972. Was also named Finals MVP that year. Averaged 17.7 points and 19.2 rebounds in those five seasons.
How he got here: Chamberlain defeated Cynthia Cooper in the first round, 91.4%-8.6%
No. 5 Jerry West vs. No. 12 Bill Walton
Jerry West: He’s the NBA logo, one of the greatest players in Lakers history and he built the teams that made the Lakers the most popular team in L.A.
How he got here: West defeated Ann Meyers in the first round, 96.9%-3.1%
Bill Walton: Many consider him the second-greatest player in UCLA history, behind Kareem. In the 1973 NCAA title game against Memphis State, Walton had the best NCAA championship game ever played. He scored 44 points on near-perfect 21-of-22 shooting. He added 13 rebounds, two assists and one block in leading the Bruins to their seventh consecutive title. Afterward, “Coach Wooden looked at me and said, ‘Walton, I used to think you were a good player … until you missed that one shot,’ ” Walton said.
How he got here: Walton defeated Michael Cooper in the first round, 61.4%-38.6%.
No. 6 Elgin Baylor vs. No. 11 James Worthy
Elgin Baylor: An 11-time All-Star and one of the greatest Lakers ever, also served for years as an executive of the Clippers.
How he got here: Baylor defeated Ralph Lawler in the first round, 86.4%-13.6%.
James Worthy: Maybe the toughest first-round matchup. Magic and Kareem got most of the ink, but they might not have won three of their five titles without “Big Game” James. Worthy was the 1988 Finals MVP and averaged 17.6 points in his 12-season Lakers career.
How he got here: Worthy defeated Pau Gasol in the first round, 78.1%-21.9%
No. 7 Shaquille O’Neal vs. No. 10 Lisa Leslie
Shaquille O’Neal: Teamed with Kobe Bryant to lead the Lakers to three consecutive NBA titles before a dispute led to O’Neal being traded. Was named Finals MVP three times with L.A.
How he got here: Shaq defeated Jamaal Wilkes in the first round, 89.5%-11.5%
Lisa Leslie: Is Lisa Leslie the best college basketball player in USC history, men or women? (or is it Cheryl Miller?) During her college career, USC won one Pac-10 Conference championship and earned four NCAA tournament appearances. Leslie was honored with All-Pac-10 recognition all four years as well as becoming the first player in Pac-10 history to obtain first team all four years. Then she went on to lead the Sparks to two WNBA titles.
How she got here: Leslie defeated Hank Gathers in the first round, 84.5%-15.5%.
No. 8 Jerry Buss vs. No. 9 Chick Hearn
Jerry Buss: The true mastermind behind the “Showtime” era. He wanted an entertaining style of basketball in L.A. and put his money behind building the Lakers into a dominant force. Also owned the Kings for a while.
How he got here: Buss defeated Walt Hazzard in the first round, 93.7%-6.3%
Chick Hearn: It would take pages to list all the basketball phrases Chick invented. Suffice to say he was the voice of the Lakers for everyone who grew up in L.A. and has his own statue outside Staples Center.
How he got here: Chick defeated Blake Griffin in the first round, 87.2%-12.8%.
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BORN ON THIS DAY
1931: Race car driver/owner Dan Gurney (d. 2018)
1963: Chessmaster Garry Kasparov
1964: Golfer Davis Love III
1964: Baseball player Jose Rijo
1967: Basketball player Dana Barros
1971: Former Clipper Bo Outlaw
1980: Basketball player Quentin Richardson
DIED ON THIS DAY
2009: Baseball player Mark Fidrych, 54
A tribute to Mark “The Bird” Fidrych. Watch it here.