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Paul Westphal (1950–2021), Basketball Hall of Famer

by Kirk Fox

Paul Westphal was a five-time NBA All-Star who later became a head coach.

  • Died: Saturday, January 2, 2021 (Who else died on January 2?)
  • Details of death: Died at the age of 70 from brain cancer.
  • We invite you to share condolences for Paul Westphal in our Guest Book.

Basketball star

Paul Westphal, a California native, was a star guard at USC who was an All-American. Known as a fierce competitor, he was drafted in the first round by the Boston Celtics and helped them win the 1974 NBA championship. He was traded to the Phoenix Suns, whom he led to their first NBA finals appearance in 1976, where they lost to the Celtics. He also played for Seattle and the New York Knicks and then finished his outstanding career back in Phoenix. After his playing days were over, Westphal coached for many years, including head coaching stops in the NBA and college. He was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019.

Westphal on choosing USC over UCLA

“It was just a decision where I don’t think I could’ve made a wrong decision, but I still had to make one. And I guess the bottom line was that I felt if we could win at ‘SC, it’d be a bigger deal than winning at UCLA — because UCLA was always winning. It was just the challenge of it. … It was about building the team that could challenge a dynasty. It was the biggest challenge in college basketball — and it was invigorating.” —The Los Angeles Times, 2019

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Tributes to Paul Westphal

Full Obituary: Los Angeles Times

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