Former Sun Paul Westphal Elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced today that former Suns guard and coach Paul Westphal is among the members of the Class of 2019 to be honored September 5-7, 2019, during this year’s Enshrinement festivities in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Westphal, who was elected as a player, played six seasons with the Suns (1975-1980, 1983-84), averaging 20.6 points on 51.6 percent shooting, 5.2 assists and 1.6 steals in 465 total games with Phoenix, and remains 8th on the franchise’s all-time leaderboard in points (9,564), 8th in assists (2,429) and 6th in steals (753). He was a four-time NBA All-Star while with the Suns and a four-time All-NBA selection from 1976-1980, including three times named to the All-NBA First Team which is tied for the most such selections by a Suns player (tied with Steve Nash and Jason Kidd who were enshrined last year). Westphal led the “Sunderella Suns” to their first Western Conference Championship in 1976, and also helped the Suns to Western Conference Finals appearances in 1979 and 1984. The Suns initially acquired Westphal, along with two second-round picks, from the Celtics on May 23, 1975 in exchange for Charlie Scott, who was enshrined into the Basketball Hall of Fame last year. The Suns traded Westphal to Seattle on June 4, 1980 in exchange for Dennis Johnson, who was enshrined into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010. In 1989, Westphal had his No. 44 retired and was placed in the Suns’ Ring of Honor.  

A 12-year NBA veteran, Westphal played three seasons with the Celtics (1972-1975), one season with the SuperSonics (1980-81) and two seasons with the Knicks (1981-1983) in addition to his time with the Suns. Westphal was an NBA Champion in 1974 with Boston then later played against the Celtics in the 1976 NBA Finals while with the Suns. In Game 5 of the 1976 NBA Finals, often called “The Greatest Game Ever Played,” Westphal made several critical plays to extend the game which was the first triple-overtime game in NBA Finals history. He was named an NBA All-Star five times in total and won the Comeback Player of the Year Award with New York in 1982-83. Born in Torrance, California, Westphal played collegiately at the University of Southern California where he was a two-time All-Pac-8 first-team selection and had his No. 25 retired by the Trojans in 2007.

In addition to his time as a player, Westphal was an NBA head coach for parts of 10 seasons with the Suns (1992-1996), SuperSonics (1998-2001) and Kings (2009-2012). In his first season as head coach of the Suns, he guided the team to the NBA Finals, making him a player on the Suns’ first Western Conference Championship team in 1976 and head coach of the Suns’ second Western Conference Championship team in 1993. Westphal registered a 191-88 record as Suns head coach with his .685 winning percentage being best of any head coach in franchise history.

With the election of Westphal, the Suns will total 11 former players inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as players. Westphal will join Connie Hawkins (1969-1973 with Suns; Class of 1992), Gail Goodrich (1968-1970 with Suns; Class of 1996), Charles Barkley (1992-1996 with Suns; Class of 2006), Dennis Johnson (1980-1983 with Suns; Class of 2010), Gus Johnson (1972 with Suns; Class of 2010), Shaquille O’Neal (2008-2009 with Suns; Class of 2016), Steve Nash (1996-1998, 2004-2012 with Suns; Class of 2018), Jason Kidd (1996-2001 with Suns; Class of 2018), Grant Hill (2007-2012 with Suns; Class of 2018) and Charlie Scott (1972-1975 with Suns; Class of 2018) as former Suns to earn enshrinement as players. Former Suns owner, general manager, executive and coach Jerry Colangelo was enshrined as a contributor in the Class of 2004 and former Suns president and chief executive officer Rick Welts was enshrined as a contributor in the Class of 2018. In addition, current Suns Vice President Ann Meyers Drysdale was enshrined as a player in the Class of 1993 and “The Voice of the Suns” Al McCoy received the Curt Gowdy Media Award in 2007.

Joining Westphal to be elected into the Class of 2019 by the Honors Committee, needing 18 of 24 votes for election after being named as finalists on February 15, are Bill Fitch, Bobby Jones, Sidney Moncrief, Jack Sikma, the Tennessee A&I Teams of 1957-59 and Teresa Weatherspoon. Al Attles was directly elected from the Contributor Committee, Charles “Chuck” Cooper from the Early African American Pioneers Committee, Vlade Divac from the International Committee, Carl Braun from the Veterans Committee and the Wayland Baptist Flying Queens of 1948-1982 from the newly instated Women’s Veterans Committee.

The Class of 2019 was announced today in Minneapolis prior to the NCAA Men’s Final Four. The Class of 2019 will be enshrined on Friday, September 6 in Springfield, Massachusetts, the birthplace of basketball and home of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Tickets for the various Enshrinement events are on sale at www.hoophall.com.

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