Over a long career, Paul Westphal excelled across various fronts in Basketball.
The legendary Basketball player and Coach Paul Westphal died on January 2 after battling hard for months with brain cancer. Westphal (70) was Hall of Fame guard and famously led the USC Trojans men’s basketball team to their best season in history of basketball. In his elite playing career, Westphal was five time-NBA All-Star and three-time All-NBA first teamer.
“Paul had it all. He was one of the best basketball players to ever play at USC,” said Jim Hefner. Along with praise from fellow and former players, Westphal also won the NBA Comeback Player of the Year award in 1983.
In 1971, Westphal led his university team to a record 24-2 win. The game brought in a whopping 92.3% winning percentage. And in 1972, he was an All-American first team guard and team captain. He won an NBA championship with the Boston Celtics in the 1974 NBA Finals. Westphal played in the NBA Finals again in 1976 as a member of the Phoenix Suns. His NBA career also included stints with the Seattle SuperSonics and the New York Knicks. In addition to being a five-time All-Star selection, Westphal earned three All-NBA First Team selections and one Second Team honor.
After his illustrious playing career ended, Westphal stepped into the second court. Initially starting with several small colleges, and then taking over as NBA assistant coach with Phoenix Suns. Later, he was the Suns’ head coach for 4 seasons. He coached college basketball for Southwestern Baptist Bible College (now Arizona Christian University), Grand Canyon University, and Pepperdine University, and also served as the head coach of the Phoenix Suns, the Seattle SuperSonics, and the Sacramento Kings in the NBA. Westphal helped the Suns to reach the NBA Finals in 1993.
Trojans head coach Andy Enfield said, “He had a huge impact on the game of basketball as a player and coach at both the collegiate and professional levels.” After a long career in basketball, first as a player and later as a coach, Westphal has also excelled as a broadcaster for Fox Sports.
In 2018, he was inducted as a player into the Basketball Hall of Fame. “He will be remembered for his generosity, leadership and love for the game,” says NBA Commissioner Adam Silver after Westphal’s demise.