Westphal Biography

An Arizona Legend

Paul Westphal was Born in Torrance, Calif., Westphal was the 1968 California Interscholastic Federation Player of the Year as a senior playing for Aviation High School in Redondo Beach. After graduating from Aviation, Westphal played three seasons at USC (freshmen weren’t allowed to play on the varsity), earning All-Pac-10 honors in all three, including two First Team selections. He helped lead the Trojans to a 24-2 mark in 1971. USC retired Westphal’s jersey number 25 and he was inducted into their Athletic Hall of Fame on May 17, 1997. The Pac-10 also honored Westphal, electing him to the Pac-10 Hall of Honor on March 15, 2008.

He was the 10th overall pick in the 1972 NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics. After three seasons in Boston, including a championship ring in 1974, he was traded to the Phoenix Suns. In 1976, Westphal helped the Suns reach their first-ever Finals appearance, where they played the Celtics. Some have deemed Game 5 of that series as the greatest game ever played in basketball. In addition to being a five-time All-Star selection, from 1977 to 1981, Westphal earned three All-NBA First Team selections and one Second Team honor. Later, he returned to the Finals in 1993 as head coach of the Phoenix Suns. He began his coaching career in 1985 with Southwestern Baptist Bible College, now Arizona Christian University where he compiled a 21–9 record.

In 1988, after three years in the college ranks, Westphal became an assistant coach with the Phoenix Suns. In 1992 he succeeded Cotton Fitzsimmons as head coach of the Suns. The Suns made it to the Finals in his 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 also considered one of the greatest games ever played. He went on to coach with the Seattle Supersonics, Pepperdine University, Dallas Mavericks, and Sacramento Kings. He has served as an executive of basketball operations and as a studio analyst for Fox Sports Net.