NBA Hall of Famer and veteran coach Phil Westphal transitioned at the age of 70 from his ongoing battle with brain cancer.
The Phoenix Suns, his first NBA Head coaching team, announced the somber news on Saturday via their Twitter page, “Westy will not be immortalized for just playing basketball. He will be remembered for how he lived his life, and how he treated others”.
Westphal established a phenomenal career both on and off the court. An outstanding player at USC, he was a three-time PAC-8 pro from 1969-1972. Before its renaming, the program honored his retired No. 25 jersey and inducted him into its Hall of Fame in 1997.
Recognized for his competitive spirit, he was a first-round draft pick for the Boston Celtics helping them gain their NBA championship title in 1974 but was traded to the Phoenix Suns soon after leading them to their first NBA finals run in 1976. He went on to play for the Sonics and the Knicks before ending his impressive career where it all began, with the Suns.
In 1985, he took on a new role as coach, continuing his craft at Southwestern Baptist Bible College now known as Arizona Christian University, Grand Canyon, and Pepperdine Universities before shifting back to the NBA coaching native teams the Suns, the Sonics along with the Sacramento Kings.
Many who knew the basketball great reminisced on his integrity. “He built an illustrious career as both a player and a coach. His legacy ranks among the most quintessential basketball icons of all time”, said Suns Managing Partner Robert Sarver.
Receiving numerous accolades such as two-time NBA All-Star Game head coach and NAIA Champion, Paul Westphal will be remembered as a pivotal player, coach, mentor, and friend to those who knew him. He is survived by his wife Cindy and their children Michael and Victoria.