ESPN losangeles: Hall of Fame

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Vote now for the 2011
ESPN Los Angeles
Hall of Fame

The five inductees to the 2011 ESPN Los Angeles Hall of Fame (with percent of votes):
1. Magic Johnson (79.1)
2. John Wooden (64.9)
3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (62.8)
4. Wayne Gretzky (42.7)
5. Sandy Koufax (38.2).

How do you think you did? Live

Note: If they're still active, they're not eligible.

Visit the discussion page to talk about who you think should be considered for the inaugural Hall of Fame class.

About this project

Welcome! Stay around for a while Video

Nominee photogallery

ESPNLA Hall of Fame: The 20 men and women Photo Gallery

Columns

Woj: An impossible mission »
Markazi: Who's next? The odds are ... »
Shelburne: Vin in a class by himself »
Markazi and Shelburne: The great debate »
Markazi: Hey, it's harder than it looks »
Shelburne: Time out! Moments of clarity »
Springer: You should know Bob Waterfield »
Markazi: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's complexity »
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on Kareem »
Debate: Is Phil more L.A. or Chicago »
Adande: The importance of legacy »

Meet the panel

ESPNLA Hall of Fame: The Panel Video
J.A. Adande defends his picks: On the clock Video
Steve Mason defends his picks: On the clock Video
Arash Markazi defends his picks: On the clock Video
Ramona Shelburne defends her picks: On the clock Video
Steve Springer defends his picks: On the clock Video

OK, that's debatable

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Football's rich history in Los Angeles Video
Some overrated players in L.A. history Video
Some active icons that are destined Video
Some of the great women in L.A. sports Video

710 ESPN

Mason & Ireland: Hall of Fame one-hour special Listen
The nominees: A rundown of the Hall of Fame Listen
Should three Lakers make the first five? Listen
Who are the automatics once they retire? Listen
The greatest moments in L.A. sports history? Listen

The great debate

Wayne Gretzky made the ESPNLA Hall of Fame (at the expense of Jerry West).


By Arash Markazi and Ramona Shelburne
ESPNLosAngeles.com

Hall of Fame candidates
 
Arash Markazi was our only panelist to mention Wayne Gretzky in our debate:  Watch Video

The first class of the ESPNLA Hall of Fame has been selected, but as is the case with most Hall of Fame selections, that was the easy part. Now comes time for a year's worth of debate until the next class. Who was snubbed, who shouldn't have gotten in, and how did so many great coaches and players get left off the ballot?

ESPNLosAngeles.com columnists Arash Markazi and Ramona Shelburne might not have all the answers, but they helped compile the list of players and coaches on the inaugural ballot and tried to make sense of the first class after it was announced on Tuesday.


From: Arash Markazi
To: Ramona Shelburne

Well, it looks like my ballot was pretty much on target. The only one I missed was Wayne Gretzky. I had Gretzky ranked sixth, just behind Jerry West at five, so I'm certainly not up in arms that The Great One got in. I'm actually happy there is some hockey representation in the class. Not only was Gretzky the greatest hockey player ever, but he completely changed the way the sport was viewed on the West Coast and in the Sun Belt. He singlehandedly created the current Pacific Division as we know it; his success with the Los Angeles Kings spawned franchises in Anaheim, San Jose, Phoenix and Dallas.

I know he didn't win a championship while in L.A., but he led the Kings to their first and only Stanley Cup finals in 1993, and anybody who was in Los Angeles at the time can tell you this became the Kings' town for a couple of magical months. Gretzky scored a hat trick in Game 7 of the Campbell Conference finals against the Toronto Maple Leafs before the Kings eventually lost to the Montreal Canadiens. Stanley Cup or not, however, Gretzky made Southern California a hockey town -- and if you don't believe me, go to Staples Center or the Honda Center for a Kings-Ducks game.


From: Ramona Shelburne
To: Arash Markazi

I believe you, Arash, and if I didn't, I need look no further than these results to see the passion in the Kings' loyal fan base.

I don't think Gretzky deserves to be a first-ballot inductee when there are guys like Jerry West, Marcus Allen and Chick Hearn on the ballot. But I don't think it's a horrendous miscarriage of justice, either. Gretzky is called The Great One for a reason. And yes, he did excite this town about hockey for a couple of years like it's never been excited before. But let's be honest, his best years were played elsewhere, and the Kings went to the Stanley Cup finals only once, in 1993, and they didn't win.

What I think Gretzky's selection speaks to is the passion of hockey fans, who often have to show their passion in order for the mainstream media to recognize them and accord them more coverage. Often, that coverage comes on the Internet, which made the ESPNLA Hall of Fame a natural place for them to assemble in large numbers and speak their mind.

Personally, I'm glad they did. That's what this was about. I'm just a little disappointed Jerry West was snubbed.


From: Arash Markazi
To: Ramona Shelburne

As much as I like Gretzky, there's no question in my mind that Jerry West deserves to be in the first class of the Hall of Fame. While Gretzky helped build a sport and create a legacy during his eight years in Los Angeles, West essentially helped build the Lakers from the moment they arrived in L.A. in 1960. Not only was he one of the greatest players ever (he's the NBA logo, for goodness' sake), but he was also one of the greatest executives in league history. After helping Los Angeles win its first NBA title as a player in 1972, he was the man behind the moves in the front office that would eventually lead to 10 more championships. Yes, he left the Lakers in 2002, but when you watch Kobe Bryant, understand that he's in L.A. because of West.


From: Ramona Shelburne
To: Arash Markazi

I was worried about both Jerry West and Sandy Koufax when we opened this up to fan voting because so many people who voted in this were likely to be from a younger generation and may not have ever seen either man play.

So honestly, I'm proud of the voters for recognizing Sandy Koufax, who retired in 1966. Koufax absolutely should've been in the ESPNLA Hall of Fame on the first ballot, much like he became the youngest player elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame at the age of 36 in 1972. Three unanimous Cy Young awards in four years? A 97-27 record from 1962-66? His unreal performance in the 1965 World Series that earned him Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year award?

For a lot of people out there, I'm sure Koufax is just the legendary guy Clayton Kershaw is often compared to. I'm glad this award gave us an opportunity to relive his greatness.


From: Arash Markazi
To: Ramona Shelburne

I love that Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are going in together in the first class. There is no question that Magic is the most popular player this city has ever seen, but no one's résumé in the city is as impressive as Kareem's. He might not be as beloved as Magic, but his résumé speaks for itself. He won six NBA championships (five with the Lakers), six league MVPs (three with the Lakers) and three NCAA championships at UCLA while being named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player each year. Everyone knew Magic would be in the first class, but it's only right that he will go in with Kareem since the two ushered in the Showtime era in Los Angeles sport and helped make this city a Lakers town, as this class and future classes will show.


From: Ramona Shelburne
To: Arash Markazi

For me, the most exciting part of this class is the overwhelming support for John Wooden, who was one our highest vote getters. I think it speaks to his accomplishments as a coach, which are unparalleled and will never be equaled, and the incredible impact he had in his retirement -- he never stopped giving of himself to people in all walks of life.

If it's possible, Wooden might've done more for basketball and humanity after he retired as UCLA's coach. As Angelenos, we are lucky he lived among us. Having him in our first Hall of Fame class is not only fitting, but an honor.

Arash Markazi and Ramona Shelburne are columnists for ESPNLA.com