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Westphal in 2014 as Brooklyn Nets assistant coach
|Born||November 30, 1950|
|Listed height||6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)|
|Listed weight||195 lb (88 kg)|
|High school||Aviation (Redondo Beach, California)|
|NBA draft||1972 / Round: 1 / Pick: 10th overall|
|Selected by the Boston Celtics|
|1981–1983||New York Knicks|
|1985–1986||Southwestern Baptist Bible|
|1988–1992||Phoenix Suns (assistant)|
|2007–2008||Dallas Mavericks (assistant)|
|2014–2016||Brooklyn Nets (assistant)|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Points||12,809 (15.6 ppg)|
|Assists||3,591 (4.4 apg)|
|Steals||1,022 (1.3 spg)|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
|Basketball Hall of Fame as player|
|College Basketball Hall of Fame|
Inducted in 2018
Westphal had a storied career in the National Basketball Association, both as a player and as a coach. He played in the NBA from 1972 to 1984. Playing the guard position, he won an NBA championship with the Boston Celtics in the 1974 NBA Finals. Westphal played in the NBA Finals again in 1976 as a member of the Phoenix Suns. His NBA career also included stints with the Seattle SuperSonics and the New York Knicks. In addition to being a five-time All-Star selection, Westphal earned three All-NBA First Team selections and one Second Team honor.
After his playing career ended, Westphal began coaching. He has coached college basketball for Southwestern Baptist Bible College (now Arizona Christian University), Grand Canyon University, and Pepperdine University, and has also served as head coach of the Phoenix Suns, the Seattle SuperSonics, and the Sacramento Kings in the NBA. Westphal coached the Suns to the NBA Finals in 1993.
In 2019, Westphal was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
Westphal was chosen as the 10th overall pick in the 1972 NBA draft by the Boston Celtics. After three seasons in Boston, including a championship in 1974, he was traded to the Phoenix Suns. In 1976, Westphal helped the Suns reach their first-ever NBA Finals appearance, where they played against the Celtics. Game 5 of that series is often called "the greatest game ever played" in NBA history.
- With time winding down in regulation and the Suns trailing 94–91, Westphal poked the ball away from Jo Jo White, took a long pass from Dennis Awtrey, and hit a layup. He was fouled on the play and hit the free throw to tie it at 94–94.
- In the second overtime, with 15 seconds left and the Suns trailing 109–108 after just making a basket, Westphal stole the ball from John Havlicek after Havlicek received the inbounds pass. This began a chain of events that culminated with Curtis Perry hitting a jumper to give the Suns a 110–109 lead.
- After the Perry basket and a Celtics timeout, Havlicek got the ball with five seconds left and hit a shot to put the Celtics up 111–110. The buzzer sounded and Celtic fans poured on the floor, thinking the Celtics had won. However, referee Richie Powers correctly ruled that Havlicek's shot went through the basket with two seconds left on the clock. After one second was placed back on, Westphal, sensing that the Suns could get a better shot off if the ball was inbounded at halfcourt, called a timeout that the Suns didn't have while preparing to inbound the ball from under the Celtics' basket. A technical foul was assessed; the Celtics made the subsequent free throw and increased their lead to 112–110. The resulting timeout call allowed Phoenix to inbound the ball at midcourt, rather than go the full length of the court. (As a result of this play, the NBA changed the rules prior to the following season.) Garfield Heard then made a shot for the Suns that sent the game into triple-overtime.
- With 20 seconds left in the third overtime and the Celtics seemingly in control at 128–122, Westphal scored two quick baskets to cut it to 128–126 and nearly made a steal at midcourt after the second, but failed and the Celtics ran out the clock to the victory.
Westphal was 6th in the NBA in scoring average for the 1977–78 season at 25.2 ppg. In that season, he became the first NBA All-Star Weekend H-O-R-S-E Competition champion. The following 1978–79 season, he was 7th in scoring average with 24.0 points per game.
After the 1979–80 season, he was traded to the Seattle SuperSonics for Dennis Johnson where he played one season before heading to the New York Knicks. In 1983 he returned to Phoenix for his final NBA season. He had been injured and only played in 59 of the 82 games of his final season.
In his career Westphal scored a total of 12,809 NBA points for an average of 15.6 points per game, with 3,591 assists for an average of 4.4 assists per game. He also had 1,580 rebounds, for an average of 1.9 per game. He was a 5-time All-Star and 3 times an All-NBA first team selection and one time a second team All-NBA selection. He is Phoenix's fifth all-time leading scorer (9,564), averaging 20.6 points (1975–80, 1983–84). His No. 44 was retired by the Suns, and he is a member of their Ring of Honor. Westphal was also added into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as a player on September 6, 2019.
Coaching and broadcasting career
Westphal's coaching career started in 1985 at Southwestern Baptist Bible College (now Arizona Christian University), located in Phoenix. After compiling a 21–9 record in his lone season there, he moved on to Grand Canyon College, also in Phoenix, and after two seasons led them to the NAIA national title in 1988.
In 1988, after three years in the college ranks, Westphal became an assistant coach with the Phoenix Suns under head coach Cotton Fitzsimmons, and in 1992 he succeeded Fitzsimmons as head coach of the Suns. With players such as Kevin Johnson, Dan Majerle, rookie Richard Dumas and the newly acquired Charles Barkley and Danny Ainge, the Suns made it to the NBA Finals in Westphal's first season as a coach, but eventually lost to the Chicago Bulls in six games. Incidentally, Game 3 between the two teams went to triple-overtime (which the Suns won) and is considered one of the greatest games ever played. While the Suns made the playoffs during each of Westphal's seasons as coach, they did not return to the Finals, and Westphal was let go during the 1995–96 season. He served as an assistant coach for a high school team in Arizona for two years before he returned to the NBA as a coach with the SuperSonics for the 1998–99 season. He coached in Seattle until he was fired during the 2000–01 season.
Westphal returned to the college ranks in April 2001 at Pepperdine University. In his first season, Westphal led the Waves men's basketball team to a 22–9 record and tied nationally ranked Gonzaga for the WCC title. The team achieved an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament, but lost 83–74 to Wake Forest in the first round in a game played at ARCO Arena. This was the only postseason berth during the rest of Westphal's five-year tenure and he finished with an overall record of 74–72. After a 7–20 season in 2005–06, Westphal was fired on March 15, 2006.
Westphal has also worked as a studio analyst for Fox Sports Net West/Prime Ticket for Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers games, first joining them during the Clippers' playoff run. In 2007, Westphal announced the locally broadcast USC basketball games. He worked alongside Jim Watson on FSN Prime Ticket. Westphal was also a studio analyst along with Don Maclean for the 2007 Pacific-10 Conference Men's Basketball Tournament games that aired on FSN.
On June 28, 2007, the Dallas Mavericks announced they had signed Westphal as an assistant coach under head coach Avery Johnson. When Johnson was replaced by Rick Carlisle, Westphal left coaching to become executive vice-president of basketball operations (under Donnie Nelson) for the Mavericks on October 2, 2008.
For the 2014–15 season, Westphal was hired by the Brooklyn Nets as an assistant to new head coach Lionel Hollins. Hollins had previously served as Westphal's assistant coach in Phoenix. In his first season with the Brooklyn coaching staff, the Nets reached the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
Head coaching record
|Regular season||G||Games coached||W||Games won||L||Games lost||W–L %||Win–loss %|
|Playoffs||PG||Playoff games||PW||Playoff wins||PL||Playoff losses||PW–L %||Playoff win–loss %|
|Phoenix||1992–93||82||62||20||.756||1st in Pacific||24||13||11||.542||Lost in NBA Finals|
|Phoenix||1993–94||82||56||26||.683||2nd in Pacific||10||6||4||.600||Lost in Conference Semifinals|
|Phoenix||1994–95||82||59||23||.720||1st in Pacific||10||6||4||.600||Lost in Conference Semifinals|
|Seattle||1998–99||50||25||25||.500||5th in Pacific||—||—||—||—||Missed playoffs|
|Seattle||1999–2000||82||45||37||.549||4th in Pacific||5||2||3||.400||Lost in First Round|
|Sacramento||2009–10||82||25||57||.305||5th in Pacific||—||—||—||—||Missed playoffs|
|Sacramento||2010–11||82||24||58||.293||5th in Pacific||—||—||—||—||Missed playoffs|
|Pepperdine Waves (West Coast Conference) (2001–2006)|
|2001–02||Pepperdine||21–9||13–1||T–1st||NCAA Division I Round of 64|
|Pepperdine:||75–71 (.514)||38–32 (.543)|
Postseason invitational champion
- "Greatest Game Ever". Phoenix Suns.
- "Greatest Game Ever Played | Celtics.com – The official website of the Boston Celtics". Nba.com. June 4, 1976. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 13, 2016. Retrieved December 7, 2018.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Black, Martin. "The Phoenix Suns: The Unluckiest Franchise In Professional Sports". Bleacher Report.
- David Friedman, Celtic sub shined brightly as a Sun Archived November 22, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, November 20, 2007
- "Paul Westphal, the former head coach of the Phoenix Suns and the Seattle SuperSonics, will be introduced tomorrow afternoon as the new head basketball coach at Pepperdine - West Coast Conference Official Athletics Site". Archived from the original on July 22, 2018. Retrieved December 7, 2018.
- "WESTPHAL RISES : There's Heir of Change on Phoenix's Coaching Horizon". Los Angeles Times. May 25, 1989.
- "Sacramento Kings News Headlines". Sacramento Kings.
- "Westphal dismissed as Pepperdine coach". ESPN.com. March 16, 2006.
- Pepperdine Sports information, Men's Basketball History[permanent dead link] June 18, 2008
- Sefko, Eddie. – MAVERICKS: "Stackhouse steps it up – Swingman hopes to earn starting spot after increasing emphasis on conditioning". – The Dallas Morning News. – October 2, 2008.
- "NBA's slow-starting Kings fire coach Westphal". ESPN.com. January 5, 2012.
- "Brooklyn Nets announce coaching staff". Brooklyn Nets. July 30, 2014. Retrieved December 13, 2014.
- "The Call Of Coaching -- Ever Since Grade School, Paul Westphal Has Been A Student Of The Game | The Seattle Times". archive.seattletimes.com. February 4, 1999.
- "Former NBA star Paul Westphal discusses his connection to Israel". Jewish Insider. February 21, 2020.
- "In The News — Paul Westphal". June 30, 2014.
- "Hall of Famer Paul Westphal has brain cancer". ESPN.com. August 9, 2020.
- "2011-12 Pepperdine men's basketball records book, page 7" (PDF).