Basketball Hall of Famer Paul Westphal dies after battle with brain cancer

Paul Westphal speaks after receiving the Jerry Colangelo Award at the All Star Breakfast held by the National Basketball Retired Players Association.
Paul Westphal spent 12 seasons in the NBA as a player and 10 seasons as a head coach. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)

Basketball Hall of Famer Paul Westphal died Saturday. He was 70.

Westphal had a 12-year playing career in the NBA. After being selected by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the 1972 NBA draft, Westphal was traded to the Phoenix Suns after three seasons, where his career took off.

After averaging 7.3 points per game with the Celtics, Westphal averaged 20.5 points per game in his first season with the Suns. He carried over that success throughout his entire Suns tenure, making the All-Star team every season he was with the club. Westphal went to the Seattle Supersonics for the 1980-81 season, where he made his fifth straight NBA All-Star team. Westphal played two seasons with the New York Knicks before finishing out his career back with the Suns.

The Suns paid tribute to Westphal on Saturday, saying Westphal will be remembered for both his playing career and the way he treated others.

Suns managing parter Robert Sarver said Westphal “ranks among the most quintessential basketball icons of all time.”

Paul Westphal became successful NBA coach after playing career

Following his playing career, Westphal joined the Suns as an assistant coach. He eventually took over as the Suns’ head coach. In four seasons, he led the team to a 191-88 record. The team made it to the NBA Finals during Westphal’s first season as head coach, but lost to the Chicago Bulls in the Finals. Westphal also coached the Seattle Supersonics and Sacramento Kings.

Westphal was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019.

In August, Westphal revealed a brain cancer diagnosis.

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