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) /
3 of 14
Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Lakers. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /


30. Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Considered the greatest female athlete of all-time, Jackie Joyner-Kersee began her great track and field career while a student at UCLA. She helped lead the UCLA Bruins women’s outdoor track and field team to back to back championships in 1982-83 while winning the NCAA title in the heptathlon event. She did this while also playing as a starter for the Bruins women’s basketball team all four years of college. She was twice named the best female track athlete in college (1983, 1985) and the best female athlete overall (1985). In 1984, she took an academic year off to concentrate on the Olympics for 1984 in Los Angeles. She finished second to win the silver medal, she would win gold in her next two Olympic games.

29. David Beckham

When David Beckham signed to play for the LA Galaxy, he elevated the MLS to the front pages of sports news everywhere. His coming was the biggest news for the league since it’s inception and opened up the league to some international recognition. Beckham was no mere spectator in his five seasons with the team he helped turn the Galaxy into the best team in the league making three MLS Cup Finals winning two and twice winning the Supporters Shield as the best team of the regular season. The team rewarded Beckham’s tenure by unveiling a statue of them at their home park.

28. Vladimir Guerrero

The best free-agent signing in Angels history, Vladimir Guerrero came to Southern California from the obscurity of Montreal and immediately turned the Angels into a powerhouse in the AL West. In 2004, his first year with the team Guerrero led the AL in runs (124), OF assists (13), and total bases (366). His efforts won the Angels their first West Division title since 1986 and he was named league MVP. Guerrero would help lead the Angels to five division titles and is the all-time leader in team batting average (.319).

27. Bo Jackson

Famous for his Nike campaign, “Bo Knows” commercials. Bo Jackson roamed the LA Coliseum for the Los Angeles Raiders in the late 1980s. Jackson was a two-sport superstar, playing baseball with Kansas City Royals while also playing with the Raiders. He never played more than 11 games in an NFL season over four abbreviated seasons, but he did average 5.4 yards whenever he carried the football and is remembered for his memorable Monday Night game in 1987 when he ran for 221 yards against the Seattle Seahawks including a 91-yard touchdown run.

26. Candace Parker

Candace Parker has played her entire WNBA career with the LA Sparks. In 12 seasons with the team, she has been one of the best players in the league. In 2008 she became the first player in league history to win both the Rookie of the Year and MVP awards in the same season. Since her amazing debut, she’s been named to the All-WNBA First Team five times and Second Team twice. She is a two-time league MVP and in 2016 she led the Sparks to their third WNBA title in franchise history and she was named the MVP of the FInals.

25. Matt Leinart

Perhaps the greatest quarterback in USC Trojans history, Matt Leinart was 37-2 as a starter in three seasons for the Trojans. He helped the Trojans win two straight AP National Championships (2003-4) and won the 2004 Heisman Trophy. For his Trojans career, Leinart finished as the all-time leader in touchdowns passes (99) and completion percentage (64.8%).

24. Luc Robitaille

The all-time franchise leader in goals scored (557) for the Los Angeles Kings the ever-popular Luc Robitaille is synonymous with the franchise even today as a team executive. In parts of 14 years with the franchise, Robitaille was named to five postseason NHL All-Star First Teams and three All-Star Second Teams. He is still the only Kings player to win the Calder Trophy as the league rookie of the year.

23. Lisa Leslie

No women’s basketball player has accomplished more than Lisa Leslie playing in Southern California. Leslie was first recognized when she scored 100 points in a High School game playing for Inglewood’s Morningside. As a four-year starter for USC’s Women’s Basketball team Leslie she was three-time All-American and was the National College Player of the Year in 1994. The face of the Los Angeles Sparks in the WNBA Leslie finished her career as the all-time leader in points and rebounds winning two WNBA titles with the team.

22. Cody Bellinger

In three seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers Cody Bellinger has accomplished more in such a short time than any other player in franchise history. Bellinger won the NL Rookie of the Year, hitting an NL rookie record 39 home runs while helping the Dodgers win their first NL pennant in 29 years. Despite a sophomore slump Bellinger again stepped up in the postseason winning the NLCS MVP, helping the Dodgers win their second straight pennant. Bellinger went even further in 2019 winning the NL MVP after hitting 47 home runs and driving in 115 runs, Bellinger also won a Gold Glove for his outfield play. He joined both Jackie Robinson and Don Newcombe as the only Dodgers to win an NL ROY and MVP in their careers.

21. Paul Kariya

The first draft choice of the expansion Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, Paul Kariya was the face of the franchise for the team’s first 10 years in existence. When he left the team Kariya was the all-time leader in games (606), goals (300), assists (369), and points (669). He was team captain for sevens seasons and in his last took the team to their first Stanley Cup Final helping the team force a game seven dramatically returning from a concussion in game six to score a goal and gain two assists.