Paul Westphal, Hall of Popularity basketball gamer, dies
Westphal died in Scottsdale, Ariz., according to a statement from USC, for whom he balanced 16.4 points per video game over 3 seasons. He was diagnosed with brain cancer in August.
A five-time All-Star guard, Westphal played in the NBA from 1972-84. After winning a champion with the Celtics, he made the finals in 1976 with Phoenix, where he was an essential part of one of the most fascinating games in league history. He likewise bet Seattle and the New York Knicks.
He balanced 15.6 points, 4.4 helps and 1.9 rebounds during his NBA career.
After his playing profession ended, Westphal moved into coaching. He led the Suns to the NBA Finals in 1993, and also was head coach of Seattle and Sacramento. He had stints as an assistant with Dallas and Brooklyn.
” There might be just a handful of individuals who have as much influence and significance on the history of the Phoenix Suns,” previous group owner Jerry Colangelo stated. “He represented the Suns the method you want every player to represent your franchise.”
At the college level, Westphal coached at Southwestern Baptist Bible College (now Arizona Christian University), Grand Canyon and Pepperdine.
Westphal dipped into USC from 1968-72, and the Trojans honored him with a minute of silence before their game Saturday. His No. 25 jersey awaits the Galen Center rafters. He led the Trojans to a 24-2 record in 1971. The following year, he was an All-American and team captain who led the Trojans with a 20.3-point average.
Born on Nov. 30, 1950, in the Los Angeles residential area of Torrance, Paul Douglas Westphal was prepared 10th total in the preliminary of the 1972 NBA draft by the Celtics. The 6-foot-4 guard invested 3 seasons in Boston before being traded to Phoenix.
In 1976, Westphal helped the Suns reach their very first NBA Finals against the Celtics. Video game 5, a triple-overtime thriller in that series, is often called “the best video game ever played.”
The Suns trailed 94-91 in the closing seconds of guideline when Westphal stole the ball from JoJo White and got fouled. His 3-point play connected the video game at 94.
In the second overtime, with 15 seconds left and the Suns routing 109-108, Westphal took the ball from John Havlicek, who had taken an inbounds pass. That led to a series in which the Suns scored to take a 110-109 lead.
Havlicek scored to put the Celtics ahead 111-110. The buzzer sounded and Celtics flooded the court, believing their team had won. However, the referee ruled that Havlicek scored with 2 seconds staying.
One second was returned on the clock. Westphal called for a timeout that the Suns didn’t have, resulting in a technical nasty. The Celtics made the complimentary throw for a 112-110 lead. After a timeout, the Suns inbounded at midcourt and scored to force a third overtime.
With 20 seconds left and the Celtics leading 128-122, Westphal scored two quick baskets to cut it to 128-126 and almost took the ball at midcourt, but failed and the Celtics ran out the clock to win.
The Suns retired his No. 44 jersey.
Westphal was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as a gamer in 2019. He entered into the College Basketball Hall of Popularity in 2018.