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Suns icon Paul Westphal dies at 70

Suns icon Paul Westphal dies at 70

Paul Westphal, a five-time All-Star and three-time All-NBA first-team pick / point guard, has died at the age of 70, the Phoenix Suns announced Saturday.

Westphal was diagnosed with brain cancer in August 2020.

He grew up in Southern California and played college basketball at USC before being selected 10th overall by the Boston Celtics in the 1972 draft.

He won an NBA title with the Celtics in 1974 in just his second season, playing a key role off the bench. But his career really took off when he was traded to Phoenix, where his scoring average more than doubled, to 20.5 per game, as he helped lead the Suns to their first appearance in the NBA Finals.

“Westy will always be remembered as a prominent Valley sports legend both on and off the court,” Suns managing partner Robert Sarver said Saturday. «He built an illustrious career as a player and coach. His legacy is among the quintessential basketball icons of all time. “

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“Throughout the past 40 years, Westy has remained a great friend to the organization and a trusting and confident presence to me. His number 44 will forever keep his place in our Ring of Honor, enshrined as one of the most deserving members.

In Game 5 of those Finals, Westphal made several key plays to propel the game, often called the best in playoff history, to three additional periods. Although the Celtics prevailed in the game and the series, Westphal had announced his arrival as one of the best shooting guards in the NBA.

“He was cerebral in his game,” Jerry Colangelo said in a statement Saturday. “I was always thinking one step ahead. Even the infamous triple overtime game in Boston during the final series, when he was the one who said ‘call the timeout’, which forced a free throw, but gave us the ball in half court and prepared the opportunity to tie the game, which we did. That is thinking in the right place right now.

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After five consecutive All-Star appearances, Westphal suffered injuries that limited his playing time until 1982-83, when he won Comeback Player of the Year honors with the New York Knicks. He returned the next season to finish his playing career with the Suns before turning to coaching.

As an NBA coach, he was 318-279, including a trip to the 1993 Finals and two conference semifinals with the Suns. Westphal also coached the Seattle SuperSonics and Sacramento Kings and at Pepperdine University from 2001 to 2006. Westphal last worked in the NBA as an assistant coach for the Brooklyn Nets from 2014 to 2016.

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He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in September 2019. His number 44 was retired by the Suns, as was his number 25 by Southern Cal.

“There may be a handful of people who are so influential and important in the history of the Phoenix Suns,” Colangelo said. «Everything he achieved as a player and as a coach. Off the court, he was a gentleman, a family man, a great moral character. He represented the Suns the way you want each player to represent your franchise. ” (GG) (ESPNDEPORTES)

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