Paul Westphal, a standout for the Phoenix Suns who was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019, died Saturday. He was 70. Westphal revealed a brain cancer diagnosis last year. He is survived by his wife, son, and daughter.
Westphal starred at the University of Southern California before getting drafted by the Boston Celtics in 1972, where he contributed to an NBA championship in 1974. But his career really took off once he was traded to the Phoenix Suns prior to the 1975 season. He went on to make five straight All Star appearances for Phoenix between 1977 and 1981, and he helped the franchise make its first finals appearance in 1976, where they faced off against his old team. The Suns lost to the Celtics in six games despite Westphal displaying heroics in a narrow, triple overtime defeat in Game 5, which is considered one of the greatest NBA games ever played.
After his playing days were over, Westphal got into coaching at the pro and collegiate level, including a stint with the Suns, whom he guided to their second and most recent Western Conference title in 1993. The Suns, who were led by MVP Charles Barkley at the time, again came up short in heartbreaking fashion against Michael Jordan and the Bulls in six games. Read the Suns tribute to Westphal here.