Paul Westphal Dies: Basketball Hall Of Famer And Los Angeles Native Was 70

Bruce Haring
·1 min read

Paul Westphal, a Hall of Fame basketball player who starred for USC and later in the NBA, died Saturday from complications of brain cancer. He was 70.

NBA teams honored Westphal with moments of silence before Saturday night’s games. NBA commissioner Adam Silver called him, “One of the great all-around players of his era.”

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Born on Nov. 30, 1950, in Torrance, Calif., Westphal surprised many by choosing USC over UCLA, which was in its heyday of national championships under the purview of legendary coach John Wooden.

Westphal led the Trojans to a 24-2 record and a No. 5 ranking as a junior, its only two losses to UCLA. He was recognized as an All-American as a junior and senior before he was selected 10th overall by the Boston Celtics in the 1972 NBA draft.

His NBA career was equally successful. He won an NBA championship in 1974 with Boston. After the1975 season, he was traded to Phoenix, and led the Suns to the NBA Finals in 1976. He averaged 20.6 points over six seasons and made five consecutive All-Star teams. He later led the Suns to the NBA Finals as a coach in 1993, where they lost to the Chicago Bulls.

He also coached the Seattle SuperSonics and the Sacramento Kings. He also coached at Pepperdine and Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, taking the latter to the 1988 NAIA national championship.

Survivors include his wife, Cindy; their daughter, Victoria; and a son, Michael.

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