Paul Westphal, Hall of Famer and NBA champion, dies at 70

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FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2009 file photo, Sacramento Kings coach Paul Westphal looks on during an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas. Westphal, the Hall of Fame basketball player has died. The Phoenix Suns confirmed his death Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)

Paul Westphal, a Hall of Fame player who won a championship with the Boston Celtics in 1974 and later coached in the league and in college, died Saturday. He was 70.

He died in Scottsdale, Arizona, according to a statement from Southern California, where Westphal starred in college. He was diagnosed with brain cancer last August.

A five-time All-Star guard, Westphal played in the NBA from 1972-84. After winning a championship with the Celtics, he made the finals in 1976 with Phoenix, where he was a key part of one of the most riveting games in league history. He also played for Seattle and the New York Knicks.

He averaged 15.6 points, 4.4 assists and 1.9 rebounds during his career.

After his playing career ended, Westphal moved into coaching. He led the Suns to the NBA Finals in 1993, and also was head coach of Seattle and Sacramento. He had stints as an assistant with Dallas and Brooklyn.

“There may be just a handful of people who have as much influence and significance on the history of the Phoenix Suns,” former team owner Jerry Colangelo said. “All he accomplished as a player and as a coach. Off the court, he was a gentleman, a family man, great moral character. He represented the Suns the way you want every player to represent your franchise.”

At the college level, Westphal coached at Southwestern Baptist Bible College (now Arizona Christian University), Grand Canyon and Pepperdine.

Westphal played at USC from 1968-72, and the Trojans honored him with a moment of silence before their game Saturday. His No. 25 jersey hangs in the Galen Center rafters. He led the Trojans to a 24-2 record in 1971. The following year, he was an All-American and team captain who led the Trojans with a 20.3-point average.