Commentary

Los Angeles: basketball's best city

Updated: April 6, 2010, 9:22 PM ET
By J.A. Adande | ESPNLosAngeles.com

Lakers BannersNoah Graham/NBAE/Getty ImagesIf they could enshrine cities in the Hall of Fame, Los Angeles would be first in line.

If they can enshrine teams in the basketball Hall of Fame, why not entire cities? And if that were the case, Los Angeles would have to be the first city honored.

Monday was another shining day for L.A. hoops -- as if the 11 NCAA banners hanging in UCLA's Pauley Pavilion and the 10 NBA championships the Lakers won here weren't enough. Did you notice the prominent L.A. thread running throughout this year's Hall of Fame honorees?

It began with the most obvious, Jerry Buss. The most successful owner in American sports for the past three decades turned the Lakers into a consistent winner and financial boon and cultural trendsetter (Laker Girrrrls), all in the city of Los Angeles. (Fellow L.A. hoops hero Magic Johnson lobbied hard among the Hall voters to get Buss in. Another assist for Magic.)

The late Dennis Johnson went to Dominguez High School and played at Harbor College before transferring to Pepperdine. Cynthia Cooper starred at Locke High School and USC before she turned in some of the clutchest performances I have ever seen with the Houston Coments. Magic was one of the brightest stars on the 1992 Olympic Dream Team that's getting inducted.

If Karl Malone's Hall of Fame plaque featured a baseball cap it would have the logo of the Utah Jazz, of course. But don't forget that his final points, the ones that brought his career total to the second-highest number in NBA history, came in a Lakers uniform.

Even if we don't count the Mailman as one of the locals, Los Angeles still has a strong contingent of Hall of Fame players, most of whom would occupy the upper tiers of Bill Simmons' "Hall of Fame Pyramid" if it were ever implemented. None of the players with significant L.A. connections fall under the "Who's that?" or "He's in the Hall of Fame?" categories.

Consider the list:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (UCLA, Lakers)
Elgin Baylor (Lakers)
Wilt Chamberlain (Lakers)
Cynthia Cooper (USC)
Denise Curry (UCLA)
Gail Goodrich (UCLA, Lakers)
Dennis Johnson (Pepperdine)
Magic Johnson (Lakers)
Bob McAdoo (Lakers)
Ann Meyers (UCLA)
Cheryl Miller (USC)
Bill Sharman (USC)
Bill Walton (UCLA)
Jerry West (Lakers)
James Worthy (Lakers)

And that's with Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and Lisa Leslie still to come.

Maybe the real honor belongs to those of us in L.A. who've been able to watch them play up close over the years.

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