BOSTON (CBS) – Paul Westphal, a Hall of Famer guard who played with the Boston Celtics in the 1970s and helped them win a championship in 1974, passed away on Saturday due to brain cancer. He was 70.
Westphal was selected 10th overall by Boston in 1972 out of the University of Southern California. Playing a key bench role for the Celtics, Westphal helped the team outlast the Milwaukee Bucks four games to three in the 1974 NBA Finals.
After three seasons with the Celtics, he was traded to the Phoenix Suns, where he rounded into one of the elite players in the game. In 1976, he guided Phoenix to its first-ever NBA Finals. The Suns squared off against the Celtics, and they ultimately fell in six games.
Westphal went on to play with the Seattle SuperSonics and New York Knicks before finishing his playing career with the Suns in 1984. In total, he made five All-Star teams, three All-NBA First Teams and one All-NBA Second Team.
Following his playing career, Westphal turned to the coaching ranks. In his first year as head coach of the Suns, he guided Phoenix to the 1993 NBA Finals. Westphal also coached Seattle and Sacramento. At the college level, he coached at Southwestern Baptist Bible College (now called Arizona Christian University), Grand Canyon and Pepperdine.
His jersey, number 44, was retired by the Suns, and he is a member of their Ring of Honor. He was later inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019.
Westy will not be immortalized for just playing basketball. He will be remembered for how he lived his life, and how he treated others.
Rest In Peace, Westy 🙏
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) January 2, 2021
Celtics general manager Danny Ainge, who played under Westphal on the Suns during the 1990s, wrote on Twitter, “I’m so sad to hear that we lost Paul Westphal. I loved watching him play at USC and in Boston and Phoenix! I was blessed to have known him as Coach and as a man of God. He was one of my all time favorite people I’ve met in this business.”
I’m so sad to hear that we lost Paul Westphal. I loved watching him play at USC and in Boston and Phoenix! I was blessed to have known him as Coach and as a man of God. He was one of my all time favorite people I’ve met in this business🙏🏼God bless Cindy and her family❤️#RIP #44
— Danny Ainge (@danielrainge) January 2, 2021
He is survived by his wife, Cindy, and two children.