Paul Westphal, a five-time All-Star, a three-time NBA first-team selection and a Naismith Basketball Hall Of Fame member, died Saturday at the age Of 70, according to the Phoenix Suns.
In August 2020, Westphal was diagnosed with brain cancer.
Westphal, born November 30, 1950, was a naive from Torrance, California. After growing up in Southern California, he attended the University Of Southern California to play basketball.
The Boston Celtics selected Westphal with the 10th overall pick in the 1972 NBA Draft. He spent three seasons with the Celtics that included winning an NBA title in 1974.
After his third season with Boston, Westphal was traded to the Phoenix Suns. He spent six seasons (1975-80) with Phoenix, leading the franchise to its first appearance in the NBA Finals in 1976. Game 5 Of the 1976 NBA Finals is Often referred to as the best game ever played.
That fame consisted Of a triple overtime thriller during which Westphal’s quick thinking helped put the Suns in position to extend the game behind Garfield Heard’s famous “Shot Heard ‘Round the World.”
Westphal averaged 20.5 points per game with the Suns. In the 1977-78 season, Westphal was sixth in the NBA in scoring, averaging 25.2 points per game.
“West will always be remembered as a prominent Valley sports legend both on and Off the court,” Suns managing partner Robert Sarver said Saturday. “He built an illustrious career as a player and coach. His legacy is among the quintessential basketball icons Of all time.
” Throughout the past 40 years, West has remained a great friend to the organization and a trusted and confident sounding board to me. His number 44 will forever hold his place in our Ring Of Honor, enshrined as one. Of the most deserving members. “
After his first season with the Suns, Westphal played for the Seattle Supersonic (1980-81) and the New York Knicks (1981-83) before ending his career back with the Suns (1983-84).
Westphal is Phoenix’s fifth-leading scorer Of all time (9,564), averaging 20.6 points per game. The Suns retired his number 44, and he is a member Of the Suns Ring Of Honor.
Westphal finished his playing career in the NBA with a total Of 12,809 points, 3,591 assists and 1,580 rebounds. He averaged 15.6 points, 4.4 assists and 1.9 rebounds per game.
He was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall Of Fame as a player on September 6, 2019.
After his playing career in the NBA, Westphal began training. He began stints at Southwestern Baptist Bible and Grand Canyon before finding his way back to Phoenix, where he served on the coaching staff from 1988 to 1995.
“There may be a handful Of people who are so influential and important in the history Of the Phoenix Suns,” Jerry Colangelo said in a statement. “Everything he achieved as a player and as a coach. Off the pitch, he was a gentleman, a family man, Of great moral character. He represented the Suns the way you want each player to represent your franchise. “
In addition to four seasons as the head coach Of the Suns, Westphal spent three seasons as the head coach Of the Seattle SuperSonics, five seasons as the head coach Of Pepperdine University, one season as an assistant coach for the Dallas Mavericks, three seasons as Sacramento Kings head coach and ended his coaching career with two seasons as an assistant coach for the Brooklyn Nets.
Westphal is survived by his wife Cindy, son Michael and daughter Victoria.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.