Los Angeles Lakers: Magic Johnson and the 40 greatest L.A. sports athletes

Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Kirby Lee/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Kirby Lee/Getty Images) /
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Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

40-31 (And one who just missed)

Outside but you can look in: Tim Salmon

By the time he retired Tim Salmon was had played his entire 14-year career with the California/Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels. The “Kingfish” roamed the outfield of Angels Stadium retiring with the most home runs (299) and walks (965) in franchise history winning the AL Rookie of the Year in 1992 and helping the team win their first and only World Series title in 2002.

40.  Ed O’Bannon

Ed O’Bannon overcame a torn ACL as a freshman on the UCLA Bruins basketball team to go on to lead the team to glory by his senior year. O’Bannon was a three-time All-Pac 10 basketball player, but it was his senior year where he shined. O’Bannon was the college player of the year, Consensus-All American and the Most Outstanding Player of the 1995 NCAA Tournament while leading the Bruins to their first NCAA basketball title in 20 years.

39. Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin is probably the best player ever drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers, taken number-one in the 2009 NBA Draft. In his eight seasons, Griffin was part of the best period in franchise history helping them go to six straight playoffs and winning the franchise’s first Pacific Division titles. Griffin was the 2011 NBA Rookie of the Year and was named 3 times to the 2nd All-NBA and once 3rd All-NBA teams.

38. Carlos Vela

In just two seasons with the Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC), Carlos Vela has proven himself the best player in Major League Soccer (MLS). In the team’s inaugural season Vela helped the franchise make the playoffs while collecting the most points (57) for a first-year team. Vela topped that in 2019 by scoring an MLS record 34 goals helping LAFC win the Supporters Shield as the best regular-season team and winning the league MVP.

37. Oscar De La Hoya

A product of East L.A., Oscar De La Hoya is probably the greatest boxer to come out of Southern California. He came to prominence in 1992 winning an Olympic Gold medal lightweight class for boxing. As a professional De La Hoya went 39-6 winning major titles across seven weight classes. In retirement, De La Hoya has remained in Los Angeles promoting MMA and boxing through his Golden Boy Promotions.

36. Corey Perry

Corey Perry spent 14 seasons with the Anaheim Ducks and in that time, he gained a reputation as a constant agitator. He was much more than that, Perry was a skilled skater with a nose for goals. He scored 372 for the Ducks good enough for second on the all-time franchise list. He played in four NHL All-Star games, was a two-time member of the postseason All-Star team, the 2011 Hart trophy winner as league MVP. Most importantly Perry was a member of the 2007 Ducks Stanley Cup-winning team.

35. Dustin Brown

The Los Angeles Kings all-time leader in games played, Dustin Brown holds the greatest honor among Kings players as the first person to ever lift the Stanley Cup for the franchise. Brown was the on-ice leader and captain of the Kings during the second golden age of the franchise. Brown is among the top ten in most offensive categories in franchise history, using a hard-hitting game to win the cup in 2012 and 2014.

34. Eric Dickerson

Despite just four and a half short seasons with the Los Angeles Rams and controversial trade because of disputes with ownership, Eric Dickerson may have a claim as the greatest player to play football in Los Angeles these last 40 years. Dickerson’s first four years with the Rams are still the greatest for a running back in NFL history, Dickerson’s rushing yards (6,968) and yards per game (112.4) are both records and his 2,105 rushing yards in 1984 is still the record for a single season.

33. Mike Piazza

Mike Piazza came out of nowhere chosen in the 62nd round of the 1988 MLB Draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Piazza won the 1993 NL Rookie of the Year setting a Dodgers rookie record with 35 home runs. From there Piazza twice finished second in NL MVP voting (1996-97), played in five consecutive All-Star games, and set and LA record in home runs and batting average for a catcher hitting .362 and 40 in 1997. His 1998 trade away from the team is perhaps considered the worst in the last 40 years if not in franchise history.

32. Reggie Bush

Perhaps the most electrifying college football player in USC history, Reggie Bush has a conflicting legacy. USC played in three straight games where a National Champion was crowned in Bush’s three years with the team, helping them win two. He became the seventh and last USC player to win a Heisman trophy in 2005. He ranks third in school history in yards from scrimmage (4,470) and he’s the only player in school history to have 1,000 rushing and receiving yards. His other legacy is getting the team suspended from postseason play for four years due to NCAA violations.

31. Scott Neidermayer

Scott Neidermayer signed with the Anaheim Ducks to play with his brother Rob and instantly turned the franchise into perennial winners. In parts of five seasons with the team, Neidermayer led them to four straight playoff appearances, their first Pacific Division title, and ultimate glory the 2007 Stanley Cup championship. Neidermayer was named the Conn Smythe winner as playoff MVP and was the first person in club history to lift the cup as team captain.