Paul Westphal life and biography

Paul Westphal picture, image, poster

Paul Westphal biography

Date of birth : 1950-11-30
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Torrance, California, USA
Nationality : American
Category : Sports
Last modified : 2011-03-30
Credited as : Basketball coach NBA, Head coach for the Sacramento Kings, played for New York Knicks

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Paul Westphal is a retired American basketball player and current head coach of the National Basketball Association's Sacramento Kings. Westphal has had a storied career in the NBA, both as a player and as a coach.

Career history
As player:
Boston Celtics (1972–1975)
Phoenix Suns (1975–1980, 1983–1984)
Seattle SuperSonics (1980–1981)
New York Knicks (1981–1983)

As coach:
Phoenix Suns (1992–1996)
Seattle SuperSonics (1998–2000)
Sacramento Kings (2009–Present)

Paul Westphal begins his second year as the head coach of the Sacramento Kings, becoming the 23rd head coach in Kings’ franchise history. Westphal brings 22 years of coaching experience at both the professional and collegiate levels to the Kings bench. He joined the Kings after spending the 2008-09 season as the executive vice president of basketball operations for the Dallas Mavericks after serving as an assistant coach for the Mavericks (2007-08).

Westphal's NBA coaching experience began nearly five years after his career as a player in the league ended. He coached one season at Phoenix’s Southwestern Baptist Bible College and two seasons at Grand Canyon College, guiding them to the 1988 NAIA National Championship. In 1988, Westphal joined the Suns’ bench as an assistant coach and four years later, in 1992, the California native became the franchise’s head coach. As head coach, he led the Suns to three of their most successful seasons. In 1992-93, he became the winningest (.756) rookie head coach in NBA history as the Suns clinched the Pacific Division title, won a franchise-record 62 games and made their second appearance in the NBA Finals. In 1995, Westphal became the second-fastest coach to reach 150 wins, accomplishing the feat in just 208 games and just five shy of the mark set by Phil Jackson. The Suns surpassed the 55-win mark in each of Westphal’s three seasons.

Westphal remained in Phoenix as the assistant coach to Terry Kearney at Chaparral High School to see his son, Michael, to graduation. He returned to the NBA coaching ranks in the lockout-shortened 1998-99 campaign, leading the Sonics to a 25-25 record. The following season, Seattle posted a 45-37 record and made the playoffs, losing 3-2 to the Utah Jazz in a first round series.

Overall, Westphal’s NBA head coaching record stands at 292-216, and his .574 winning percentage ranks among the league’s best.

Prior to joining the Mavericks, Westphal served as the head men’s basketball coach at Pepperdine University from 2001 to 2006. During his five seasons at Pepperdine, Westphal guided the Waves to an overall 76-72 mark (.514), including a 38-32 (.543) record in West Coast Conference (WCC) play. During the 2001-02 season, the Waves enjoyed a 22-9 record, a share of the WCC title and an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Westphal began his NBA career when he was a 1972 first-round (10th overall pick) draft choice of the Boston Celtics after graduating from USC. His NBA career spanned 12 seasons, which included stints with Boston, Phoenix, New York and Seattle. He earned a 1974 championship ring with the Celtics and played for Phoenix in the 1976 NBA Finals. In Game 5 of the 1976 Finals, against his old team the Celtics, Westphal's innovative idea to call a timeout when Phoenix didn't have any helped set up the game-tying play to force a third overtime.

During the 1982-83 season, while playing for the New York Knicks, Westphal was named the NBA Comeback Player of the Year after recovering from two surgeries for a broken foot that shortened his two previous seasons.

A five-time All-Star (four with Phoenix and once with Seattle), Westphal’s career ended with Phoenix in 1983 after he scored 12,809 points(15.6 ppg), grabbed 1,580 rebounds (1.9 rpg), delivered 3,591 assists (4.4 apg) and came up with 1,022 steals (1.2 spg) in 823 career games. He also was named to the All-NBA First Team three times (1976-77, 1978-79, 1979-80) and All-NBA Second Team once (1977-78). Westphal scored 9,564 points as a member of the Suns and his No. 44 jersey was retired by the franchise on April 15, 1989.


Born in Torrance, Calif., Westphal was the 1968 California Interscholastic Federation Player of the Year as a senior playing for Aviation High School in Redondo Beach. After graduating from Aviation, Westphal played three seasons at USC (freshmen weren't allowed to play on the varsity), earning All-Pac-10 honors in all three, including two First Team selections. He helped lead the Trojans to a 24-2 mark in 1971. USC retired Westphal's jersey number 25 and he was inducted into their Athletic Hall of Fame on May 17, 1997. The Pac-10 also honored Westphal, electing him to the Pac-10 Hall of Honor on March 15, 2008.

Westphal and his wife of 38 years, Cindy, have two grown children. Victoria (Mrs. Branden Higa) and Michael (who recently married the former Leanne Duckgeischel). They have one grandchild, Kai Higa.

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