Legendary Suns Guard And Coach Paul Westphal Dies

Basketball Hall of Famer Paul Westphal, an All-Star guard as a player and Charles Barkely's coach with the Phoenix Suns, has died from complications from brain cancer, according to close friend and New York-based journalist Mike Lupica. Westphal was 70.

Westphal, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, was drafted by the Boston Celtics with the 10th overall pick out of USC in 1972. His best seasons came from 1975-80 as a member of the Suns. In a strange twist, the Suns traded him straight up to the rival Seattle SuperSonics for fellow All-Star guard Dennis Johnson following the 1980 season.

Westphal later went on the coach the Suns from 1992-95, guiding the Barkley-led squad to a Finals appearance vs. Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in 1993. The Suns battled before losing the series in six games.

Westphal later became head coach of the Sonics (1998-2000), Pepperdine University (2001-06) and Sacramento (2009-12). Most recently, he served as an assistant with the Brooklyn Nets, leaving that role in 2016.

Along with playing and coaching, Westphal has also worked as a studio analyst for Fox Sports Net West/Prime Ticket for Los Angeles Clippers and Lakers games. He compiled a 318-279 record as an NBA coach and went 75-71 at Pepperdine.

Westphal averaged 15.6 points and 4.4 assists for his career, including 25.2 points in 1977-78. He made the All-Star team five times and also spent two seasons with the New York Knicks before returning to the Suns in his final season of 1983-84.

Written by
Sam Amico spent 15 years covering the NBA for Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports and NBA.com, along with a few other spots, and currently runs his own basketball website on the side, FortyEightMinutes.com.