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Hall of Fame Round of 64: Pete Newell Bracket, Part I

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Check out the full bracket here.

To check out the original nomination thread, click here. 


For those who love the Hall of Fame and want to track all these posts, click here or right next to the timestamp where it says "Hall of Fame".

This post's matchups: Jason Kidd vs Jeff Kent, Joy Fawcett vs Jerrott Willard.



We kick things off with the top half of the Pete Newell bracket; top two matchups get posted this morning, bottom two this afternoon. Polls for these matchups close next Thursday at midnight. The athlete matchups are above, the athlete descriptions and polls are after the jump. Please read, vote, and debate in the comments!

#1 Jason Kidd vs #16 Jeff Kent



Our basketball historian, LeonPowe, reminisces: 

On the short list for best point guard of all time.

* In basketball history. Pac-10 Rookie of the Year. National Rookie of the Year. Pac-10 POY. Top 3 NBA pick. Top 5 pro assists of all time.

(I put Magic, Isiah, John Stockton and Oscar ahead of him . . .but I’d take Jason over Gary Payton, Bob Cousy, Walt Frazier, Kevin Johnson, Mark Price and Tiny Archibald.)


Overachieved in his freshman year (Sweet Sixteen), underachieved in his sophomore year (Bozeman’s biggest crime wasn’t cheating . . .it was that he couldn’t coach). But we finished 2nd in the Pac that second year and were ranked in the top 15-20 most of the year.

Now sit back, and watch some sweet Justin Kidd Cal highlights, capped off by the upset vs. Duke (to find out why I called him Justin, see the second video). These fourteen minutes are worth 10,000 words.



Jeff Kent: 



Supposedly one of the greatest pro baseball players, and he ends up as the 16th seed? Weird. Here's norcalnick.

Full Disclosure:  I had never heard of Jeff Kent before he was part of a trade that sent Matt Williams to the Indians and away from the Giants.  In Cal’s baseball media guide there are only a few references to Jeff Kent.  In 1987 he set a Cal record (since broken by Xavier Nady) with the most doubles in a season (25).  Also in 1987, Kent set, and still holds, the Cal record for the most errors in a season (34) by ANY position.  Nothing would indicate a potential Hall of Famer.  What Kent went on to do is have the greatest professional baseball career of any Cal graduate ever.  And there is no debate.  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. 

In 1996 Kent had 5 undistinguished seasons of baseball under his belt.  He was averaging around 24 HRs per year and hitting about .275.  A solid everyday major leaguer, but hardly a star.  When my 11 year old self heard about the trade, I was none too pleased.  You’re trading away Matt Williams?!  Sure, Matty was getting older, but he jacked 43 bombs in the strike year!  He hit .336 in 1995!  You’re an idiot Sabean! 

[block quotes] Brian Sabean, in his first year as general manager of the Giants, was so widely criticized for the move that he famously defended himself to the media by saying, "I am not an idiot." [end block quotes] 

Jeff Kent proceeded to prove that Brian Sabean wasn’t an idiot (yet, at least) by having perhaps the greatest statistical stretch a 2nd baseman has had in the history of baseball.  In his 6 years as a Giant he averaged 29 home runs and 115 RBIs, he defense improved, he won an MVP and he combined with frenemy Barry Bonds to terrorize National League pitching.  He would finish his career with the most home runs by a 2nd baseman ever. 

Unfortunately Jeff Kent is also a world class jerk.  That he and world class jerk Barry Bonds combined to lead the Giants to so much success from ’97-’02 is all the proof you need that hack writers like Bruce Jenkins don’t know what they’re talking about when they write about how critical "clubhouse chemistry" is for success on the diamond.   

This blog post will give you the quick run down of all of the individuals, teams, groups, cities and ethnicities/sexual orientations that Jeff Kent has angered in some fashion.  Plus he betrayed San Francisco to become a Dodger, which trumps all of the other evil he’s perpetuated.   

But in the end Jeff Kent is a gritty, talented play with career accomplishments that could rank him as perhaps the greatest 2nd baseman in history.  Remember him on the field, and not off it.

Oh. I guess that's why he's ranked so low.

For those having trouble viewing the box above, click here to vote.


#8 Joy Fawcett vs #9 Jerrott Willard




Great profile by Fawcett thanks to California Pete.

In the 1990s, Joy Fawcett became the world’s most famous soccer mom. One of the mainstays of the pioneering U.S. women’s national team (239 caps over 18 years), Joy played on the World Cup–winning sides of 1991 and 1999, and she also twice won Olympic gold in 1996 and 2004. While attacking players such as Mia Hamm and Julie Foudy attracted a bit more of the spotlight on those teams, Fawcett’s role was no less integral to their success. Indeed, Joy was a true fixture on the back line; she played every minute of every game in the 1995, 1999, and 2003 World Cups, as well as the ‘96 and 2000 Olympics. She did all of this while being mother to a growing family of three girls. A National Soccer Hall of Famer, Fawcett is arguably the greatest outside back the women’s game has ever seen. U.S. attacks often began with Fawcett’s accurate distribution from the flank, and she pushed forward enough herself to score 27 goals during her career on the WNT, most ever by a defender.

I first remember seeing the not-yet-married Joy Biefeld on the back page of the Daily Cal in the mid-to-late 1980s. This was a pretty dismal time for Cal sports, so any news of national-level success grabbed my attention. In 1986, the soccer stories were all about a young Brandi Chastain, who was national Freshman of the Year at Cal before transferring to Santa Clara. But ably stepping into her shoes in 1987 was Biefeld, whose offensive skills would be on full display. A three-time All-American, Biefeld amassed 55 goals and 23 assists during her Cal career, leading the Bears to the national semi-finals two years in a row. Joy was national player of the year in 1987, when she scored a school-record 23 goals.

Joy and her husband Walter now run Saddleback United Soccer Club in Mission Viejo.




Let LeonPowe guide you through

You ever seen a caged bear? Pacing back and forth in a cage, angrily eyeing the people outside . . . just as soon as this door opens, I’m going to eat each and ever last one of you.

That’s what it was like seeing Willard occupy the middle linebacker spot from 1991 to 1994. Taking over from another really great linebacker in the middle (Mick Barsala), Willard terrorized quarterbacks, running backs and tight ends with his massive hits, amazing sideline-to-sideline speed and his knowledge of the game. I’m not old enough to have seen Nickerson or Riveria play, but between them and Fujita/Bishop/Follett – Willard was the MAN. He was the best tackler I’ve ever seen – even including pro linebackers. Wearing his little half shirt he was the monster of Strawberry Canyon.

Unfortunately his knees gave out after 4 years on Memorial’s Turf and he never really played in the NFL for the Chiefs.

I was running around on the field after the "Miracle at Memorial" (Cal falls down 30-0 to Oregon, comes back to win 41-40) and Willard and Oregon Quarterback Danny O’Neil were talking to each other on the field (I believe they’re both from Orange County) and O’Neil says (I remember this very clearly) "Hey man, did you have to hit me so hard back there?"

Also, Willard’s grandfather is Carl Kacher of Carl’s Jr. fame.

I also remember the Iowa coach (after the Alamo Bowl where Willard returned a 61-yard INT for 6) said "that’s the best damn defensive player I’ve ever seen"

You'll see Willard on this crucial goal-line stand in that amazing Oregon comeback with the 3rd down stop.

Powe also quotes Tightwad Hill here (where he was ranked 37th all time).

Willard led the Bears in tackles in each of his four seasons and wound up third all-time with 469 career stops, 54 of them for losses. He also had the knack for the big play, which separates him from other Cal defenders with gaudy stats. In his freshman year he blocked a critical punt for a touchdown against Oregon State in a 27-14 victory. In Cal’s 37-3 Alamo Bowl victory over Iowa in 1993, he returned an interception 61 yards for a score, and was named Defensive Player of the Game. In countless other situations, we could count on Jerrott to make the critical stop on third down, or to force a turnover.

Though Willard played alongside some outstanding talents in his time at Cal, he was voted Team MVP after both his junior and senior seasons, and he was a two-time All-Pac 10 first team selection at inside linebacker.

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