LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Paul Westphal, a former USC player and coach of the Pepperdine Waves, has died at the age of 70.
The Basketball Hall of Famer passed away Saturday from brain cancer.
“My dear friend, NBA Hall of Famer Paul Westphal, passed away today,” New York-based sports columnist Mike Lupica tweeted. “He was 70, and had been diagnosed with brain cancer last year. He was a splendid husband, father, grandfather, player, coach, friend, and man of faith. God now receives into His arms a most honored guest.”
My dear friend, NBA Hall of Famer Paul Westphal, passed away today. He was 70, and had been diagnosed with brain cancer last year. He was a splendid husband, father, grandfather, player, coach, friend, and man of faith. God now receives into His arms a most honored guest.
— Mike Lupica (@MikeLupica) January 2, 2021
Westphal played 12 seasons in the NBA. He won a championship with the Boston Celtics in 1974 and went to the NBA Finals with the Phoenix Suns in 1976. He later coached in the NBA for 10 seasons.
“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,” tweeted the Suns, for whom Westphal played and coached.
Westphal played on the 1971 USC Trojans team that posted a 24-2 record — a then-school record for wins and a still-standing USC mark for winning percentage (92.3%). In 1972, he was an All-American first team guard and team captain.
“Paul was admired by his family, friends and the entire Trojan community,” USC men’s basketball coach Andy Enfield said Saturday. “He had a huge impact on the game of basketball as a player and coach at both the collegiate and professional levels. Paul was as nice a person and as caring an individual as you will ever meet. The Trojan family sends condolences to Paul’s family.”
Former Trojans assistant coach Jim Hefner, who recruited Westphal to USC from Aviation High in Redondo Beach, also paid tribute to Westphal.
“Paul had it all,” Hefner said. “He was one of the best basketball players to ever play at USC. His leadership qualities and work ethic were second to none. He was the best player and the leader on the best team in USC basketball history. He was a fabulous father and loving husband to Cindy. As a player and person, USC lost one of the very best.”
Westphal coached Pepperdine from the 2001-02 season through the 2005-06 season, finishing with a record of 75-71. The Waves made the NCAA Tournament in his first season as coach, but lost to Wake Forest in the first round. It is the last time the team has made the NCAA Tournament.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)