Magic Johnson Pays Tribute to Late NBA Hall of Famer Paul Westphal

by Chris Haney

On Sunday afternoon, NBA legend Magic Johnson paid his respects to Paul Westphal and his family after the NBA Hall of Famer passed away.

Johnson posted a heartfelt message on his official Twitter account on Sunday addressing Westphal’s death. The former longtime Los Angeles Lakers guard played against Westphal during the first five years of his NBA career. Johnson paid tribute to Westphal in a short Twitter post while adding prayers for his family.

“RIP to NBA Hall of Famer Paul Westphal. Sending prayers to the entire Westphal family!” Johnson tweeted.

Paul Westphal Passes Away at the Age of 70

On Saturday, NBA Hall of Famer and head coach Paul Westphal passed away at age 70. Last year, the Los Angeles Times reported that medical professionals diagnosed the former NBA player with glioblastoma. The cancerous tumor of the brain is often incurable and tough to treat.

Westphal, a native of California, picked USC over UCLA when deciding his college destination. UCLA was a powerhouse back in the day under longtime head coach John Wooden. However, Westphal wanted to challenge UCLA’s reign. The USC Trojan would go onto have a successful collegiate career and was later inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

He entered the 1972 NBA Draft as a prominent prospect and the Boston Celtics took him 10th overall in the first round. During his second season with the Celtics, he won the NBA Championship. As great of a career as he had in Boston, his legacy holds even more importance in the Phoenix, AZ area. The Celtics traded him to the Suns in 1975. He spent seven seasons during two different stints with the team. In addition, Westphal returned to Arizona to coach the team from 1988-1995.

“There may be just a handful of people who have as much influence and significance on the history of the Phoenix Suns,” former Suns 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.”