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Greatest sports figures in L.A. history No. 4: John Wooden

November 3, 2011 | 11:59 am


Continuing our countdown of the 20 greatest figures in L.A. sports history, as chosen in voting by our online readers, with No. 4, John Wooden.

No. 4 John Wooden (251 first-place votes, 5,922 points)

A lot of people will be surprised that Wooden didn't win this voting, but he was entirely left off quite a few ballots, leaving him in fourth place.

In 27 years as Bruin coach, his teams registered 620 wins and only 147 losses while earning far more national honors than any other university.

Under Wooden, UCLA won an unprecedented 10 NCAA men's basketball titles, including seven consecutive championships (1966-73). Included in the string is one of the most amazing winning streaks in all of sports: 88 games over four seasons, including consecutive 30-0 seasons in 1971-72 and 1972-73. UCLA also won 149 of 151 games in Pauley Pavilion during his Wooden's tenure.

Wooden was the only coach to compile four undefeated seasons of 30-0 and his Bruin teams won 19 conference championships. He is the first person to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and coach.

In 2003, President George W. Bush presented Wooden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor given to a civilian.

Wooden and his wife, Nell, who died in Los Angeles on March 21, 1985, were married for 53 years. The legendary UCLA coach died on June 4, 2010.


No. 5: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

No. 6: Jerry West

No. 7: Chick Hearn

No. 8: Kobe Bryant

No. 9: Fernando Valenzuela

No. 10: Jackie Robinson

No. 11: Tommy Lasorda

No. 12: Wayne Gretzky

No. 13: Walter O'Malley

No. 14: Don Drysdale

No. 15: Merlin Olsen

No. 16: Jerry Buss

No. 17: Elgin Baylor

No. 18: Marcus Allen

No. 19: Jim Murray

No. 20: Wilt Chamberlain

Your votes are in: The 20 greatest sports figures in L.A. history

-- Houston Mitchell

Photo: John Wooden in 1996. Credit: Chuck Robinson / Associated Press