Gretzky vs. Enberg? Sampras vs. Ashe? Vote in second round of Biggest L.A. Sports Icon tournament


Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the tournament.

The first round of voting in the wild-card regional “Biggest Icon in L.A. Sports History” is over. We received over 15,000 votes in the wild-card regional. Today, voting in the second round begins and the matchups are intriguing, plus the biggest first-round upset took place in the wild-card regional.

Some rules.

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.

2. With each matchup, there will be a link for you to click on to vote. You can also send your picks by email by clicking here. Or you can vote on Twitter by clicking here.

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.


If missed the second round of basketball and baseball, you can click here to vote in the basketball regional and click here to vote in the baseball regional and click here to vote in the football regional.

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So without further ado, let’s get to the second round of the wild-card regional. Voting ends at midnight Wednesday. Remember, you can vote by email by clicking here, on Twitter by clicking here, or you can click on the link after each matchup.

No. 1 Jackie Robinson vs. No. 16 Rogie Vachon

Jackie Robinson: He never played pro baseball in L.A. and was a multi-sport star at UCLA, so we moved him to the wild-card category. Robinson was the school’s first athlete to win varsity letters in four sports: baseball, basketball, football and track. He was one of four black players on the Bruins’ 1939 football team. They went undefeated with four ties at 6–0–4. In track and field, Robinson won the 1940 NCAA title in the long jump at 24 feet 10¼ inches. Baseball was Robinson’s worst sport at UCLA, as he hit .097 in his only season.

How he got here: Defeated John Force in the first round, 93.9%-6.1%.

Rogie Vachon: The former Kings goalie was runner-up for the Vezina Trophy in 1974–75 and was named the team MVP four times between 1973 and 1977. Vachon also set many goaltending records in Kings history that still stand. His No. 30 was the first number retired by the Kings, in a ceremony on Feb. 14, 1985. He has since served in a variety of executive positions with the Kings organization.

How he got here: Defeated Sinjin Smith/Randy Stoklos in the first round, 56.4%-43.6%

Vote via Polldaddy

No. 2 Wayne Gretzky vs. No. 15 Dick Enberg

Wayne Gretzky: The greatest hockey player of all time, Gretzky expanded the hockey audience in the L.A. area and made the Kings a force to be reckoned with after he was acquired from the Edmonton Oilers.


How he got here: Defeated Bob Baffert in the first round, 93%-7%

Dick Enberg: In the late 1960s, Enberg began a full-time sportscasting career in Los Angeles, working for KTLA television (calling UCLA basketball) and KMPC radio (calling Rams football and Angels baseball). After every Angels victory, he would wrap up his broadcast with “And the halo shines tonight” in reference to the “Big A” scoreboard at Anaheim Stadium and the halo at the top, which would light up for everyone in the area to see.

How he got here: Defeated Teemu Selanne in the first round, 79.6%-20.4%

Vote via Polldaddy

No. 3 The Williams Sisters vs. No. 14 Landon Donovan

The Williams Sisters: If you lived through the late 80s-early 90s in L.A., you heard a lot about two phenomenal young tennis players who were going to become the best in the world. It was an early version of the Ball family, without social media. And all the talk proved true, as Serena and Venus Williams became two of the best tennis players of all time, with Serena the greatest female tennis player who ever lived.

How they got here: Defeated Florence Griffith-Joyner in the first round, 74.6%-25.4%

Landon Donovan: Born in Ontario, Calif., Donovan played soccer overseas and with the MLS’ San Jose Earthquakes before signing with the L.A. Galaxy in 2005, leading the team to four MLS titles and becoming a fixture on the U.S. men’s national team.

How he got here: Defeated Anze Kopitar in the first round, 65.7%-34.3%

Vote via Polldaddy

No. 4 Oscar De La Hoya vs. No. 13 Billie Jean King

Oscar de la Hoya: Born in East L.A., De La Hoya was a pro boxer from 1992 to 2008 (turning pro shortly after winning a gold medal in the 1992 Olympics), winning world titles in six weight classes. He is ranked among the top 20 boxers of all time by several experts.

How he got here: Defeated Michelle Kwan in the first round, 68.5%-31.5%

Billie Jean King: King won 39 Grand Slam event titles in tennis: 12 in singles, 16 in women’s doubles, and 11 in mixed doubles. She was born in Long Beach and went to Long Beach Poly High and Cal State Los Angeles. She is a true pioneer in women’s sports and is currently a part owner of the Dodgers. King is an advocate for gender equality and has long been an advocate for equality and social justice.

How she got here: Defeated Rob Blake in the first round, 81%-19%.

Vote via Polldaddy

No. 12 Rafer Johnson vs. No. 28 Bill Shoemaker

Rafer Johnson: He was such a good athlete, he could have fit into any of the regionals, but this seems like the right spot. At UCLA, Johnson played basketball under John Wooden and was a starter on the 1959-60 men’s basketball team. He was selected by the Rams in the 28th round of the 1959 NFL draft as a running back. He won a gold medal in the decathlon at the 1960 Summer Olympics. He lit the torch at the 1984 Summer Olympics and he helped apprehend Sirhan Sirhan after the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.

How he got here: Defeated Jonathan Quick in the first round, 66.7%-33.3%

Bill Shoemaker: Went to El Monte High and became one of the most popular jockeys in Southern California history. He won four Kentucky Derbies, two Preakness Stakes and five Belmont Stakes in his career.

How he got here: In the biggest upset of the tournament, Shoemaker defeated No. 5 David Beckham in the first round, 56.6%-43.4%

Vote via Polldaddy

No. 6 Tiger Woods vs. No. 11 Jim Murray

Tiger Woods: He grew up in Orange County and was a golf prodigy, eventually becoming one of the two greatest golfers (along with Jack Nicklaus) who ever lived.

How he got here: Defeated Jim Healy in the first round, 71.5%-28.5%

Jim Murray: The sports columnist worked at The Times for 37 years and was frequently the first place people turned when picking up the paper each morning. He was named National Sportswriter of the Year 14 times and won a Pulitzer Prize in 1990.

How he got here: Defeated Ryan Getzlaf in the first round, 87.4%-12.6%

Vote via Polldaddy

No. 7 Pete Sampras vs. No. 23 Arthur Ashe

Pete Sampras: Raised in Palos Verdes, Sampras is arguably the greatest men’s tennis player of all time, winning 14 Grand Slam event singles titles.

How he got here: Defeated Jackie Joyner-Kersee in the first round, 53.8%-46.2%

Arthur Ashe: In 1965, Ashe won both the NCAA singles title and the doubles title (with Ian Crookenden), helping UCLA win the team NCAA tennis championship. He went on to become one of the best men’s tennis players of all time, winning three Grand Slam event singles titles and 76 singles titles overall.

How he got here: Upset No. 10 Marcel Dionne in the first round, 61.4%-39.6%

Vote via Polldaddy

No. 9 Luc Robitaille vs. No. 25 Karch Kiraly

Luc Robitaille: Robitaille was NHL rookie of the year after scoring 45 goals to go along with 39 assists for the 1986-87 Kings. He scored more than 40 goals in each of his first eight seasons, including three 50-or-more-goal seasons, with a career-high 63 in 1992-93. The Forum was filled with shouts of “Luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuc” throughout his tenure with the team and he remains one of the most popular, and best, players in team history.

How he got here: Defeated No. 24 John Ramsey, 78%-22%

Karch Kiraly: Kiraly led UCLA to three men’s volleyball titles in his four seasons with the team (they were second the other year). In his four years, the Bruins compiled a 123–5 match record, with titles in 1979, 1981 and 1982. They went undefeated in the 1979 and 1982 seasons. He won three Olympic gold medals in volleyball (two indoor and one beach) and became one of the best beach volleyball players of all time.

How he got here: Upset No. 8 Bob Miller in the first round, 50.6%-49.4%

Vote via Polldaddy

Don’t forget to vote

You can vote one of three ways: Click on each individual Polldaddy link above, click here to vote via email (with all your picks in one email) or vote here via Twitter.


Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and a regular at President Trump’s daily coronavirus briefings, told Snapchat that baseball could be played this season despite the COVID-19 pandemic, without fans.

“There’s a way of doing that,” Fauci said in an interview released Wednesday. “Nobody comes to the stadium. Put [the players] in big hotels, wherever you want to play, keep them very well surveilled. ... Have them tested every single week and make sure they don’t wind up infecting each other or their family, and just let them play the season out.”

Major League Baseball acknowledged last week that playing its 2020 season in an Arizona “bubble” was one potential option. Under the plan, players would be isolated in hotels, traveling only to games at Chase Field, the 10 spring training ballparks in the Phoenix area, and other local ballparks.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said at a news conference Tuesday that he is receptive to the idea and has discussed it with commissioner Rob Manfred.

“Two words that would allow the country and the state of Arizona to know that things were headed back to normal would be, ‘Play ball,’” Ducey said.


Ready for a different kind of NFL mock draft?

The All 32 will feature football experts joining Times NFL writer Sam Farmer and Times columnist Bill Plaschke to predict and discuss all 32 first-round selections of the 2020 NFL draft. NFL team reporters and special guests such as Carson Palmer take a crack at predicting how the first round will unfold while providing insight into their decisions.

Be sure to tune in when the All 32 experience begins on at 9 a.m. PDT Friday.

For more about the 2020 NFL draft, be sure to check out The Times’ draft prospect series.


Rams offensive lineman Brian Allen tested positive for COVID-19 but is recovering with slight symptoms, a Rams spokesperson said Wednesday night.

Allen, a third-year pro, is recovering from knee surgery that ended his 2019 season early.

Allen, a fourth-round pick in the 2018 draft, started nine games at center last season. He had been going through rehabilitation treatment at the Rams facility, but the team closed the facility a few weeks ago after learning of Allen’s test result, the Rams spokesman said.

Allen had experienced loss of taste and smell, the spokesman said. The facility has since reopened for select rehabilitation work but Allen has not returned, the spokesman said.


One member of the Chargers organization tested positive for COVID-19 last month, and two others have shown symptoms, the team confirmed Wednesday.

Spokesman Josh Rupprecht reported that all involved were doing well and recovering.

The Chargers closed their Costa Mesa offices to nonessential personnel on March 12 because of the coronavirus outbreak and shut down their headquarters completely March 17.

The organization notified those who had been exposed to the employee, and all were self-isolating. The two other employees who have shown symptoms have not tested positive.


1928: Former Ram Dick “Night Train” Lane (d. 2002)

1942: Baseball player Jim Lonborg

1947: Former Bruin and Lakers player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

1952: Football coach Bill Belichick

1955: Baseball player/manager Bruce Bochy

1963: Former King Garry Galley

1970: Football player Steve Emtman

1970: Basketball player Walt Williams

1972: Tennis player Conchita Martínez

1982: Basketball player Boris Diaw

1982: Football player Jonathan Vilma

1982: MMA fighter Gina Carano

1982: Softball player Cat Osterman

1985: Basketball player Luol Deng

1993: Figure skater Mirai Nagasu


2007: Hockey player Gaetan Duchesne, 44

2013: Sportscaster Pat Summerall, 82


The top 10 plays of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar‘s career. Watch it here.

Until next time...

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