Remembering Paul Westphal

Today’s look back at Trojans who died in 2021 remembers Paul Westphal.

Westphal was on the 1971 USC men’s basketball team that had a 24-2 record. He was a first-team All-American the following season.

Westphal was so good, he could have gone anywhere after playing at Aviation High School in Redondo Beach and it came down to perennial champion UCLA and USC.

“I wanted to play on a national championship team,” Westphal said in 1969. “I liked the USC school best, and I felt I had a chance for a national championship at either. But if I were on a championship team at UCLA, well, they’ve had the teams with Walt HazzardGail Goodrich and now Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). At USC it would be the first national championship and would have more distinction.”

  • Here is what John Wooden said about Westphal:

“In my career as a teacher and coach at UCLA, the most valuable recruit we ever lost was Paul Westphal.

“He’s the one who got away. He attended all my basketball camps, and I was sure he was going to come to UCLA. He changed his mind at the very last moment and went to USC.

“Paul has said that because we were doing very well at that time, he thought it would be better to help somebody else get in that spot and knock us off rather than just coming to UCLA and help us continue

“I’ve seen a lot of basketball players, and Paul Westphal is the only one who from what I saw was truly ambidextrous. I’ve had a lot of them who were pretty good with the off-hand. But you could tell whether they were left-handed or right-handed. With Paul, I believe that he could have shot with either hand and it would have looked exactly the same.”

He averaged 16.9 points a game in his career with a high of 20.3 in 1971-72. Westphal scored 12,397 points during his 12-year NBA career and averaged 15.6 points and 4.4 assists per game in his career.

51 thoughts on “Remembering Paul Westphal

      1. When you’re young you just don’t have the life experience to appreciate it and then when you do they are either gone or going.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. I think you might just be right about that, 67….

        Liked by 3 people

      3. Scooter, budda, Michael,

        I go to the cemetary and visit dad, mom, and sister. I ask the DEAR Lord to just give me 10 Minutes in seeing them one more time to tell them thank you and that i love them and to hug them.. U guys made me cry thinking of this. I guess I am gonna have to wait. I think of this all the time.


      1. cuz there is more dead poeples liveing than live poeple liveing,like there have to be milion dead poeples by know,if writer gonna write abuot all them dead poeple,we gonna be here for a while,he shuold write abuot the live poeple still liveing,

        Liked by 2 people

  1. First, thanks for another lovely trip down memory lane, Scott. Nobody around does this thing better than you .
    Also –that Westphal fast handed steal off the great Magic Johnson reminded me of my buddy UCLA guard Terry Schofield doing the same thing to LSU’s great Pete Maravich —only Terry took it in himself for the layup.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Believe it or not my posted reply got moderated. After posting the missing piece the thing said awaiting moderation. First there were no foul words and less suggestive wording that most posts on this trash heap of a blog.
        So my guess is someone with a penis smaller than his brain flagged my other posts as “offensive” thus flagged for moderation.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I don’t know what the moderation department wants but I am done. Still my post had merit at least in my eyes, so I am breaking the things down in the hopes that the length was the trigger. Read them in numerical order.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. 1. There’s many to look at charging Youeth. For instance, if the madam at you domicile allows you to place your peanuts in her mouth, she would charge you, or so I’m told. (Plus a small sir charge)

        Liked by 1 person

      4. 3.two didn’t pass. (Unbelievable)
        Still you got to be talented to be able to put your twig and berries in the mouth of your opponent is worth charging admission for.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Finally if you find yourself wondering whatever happened to: Me, Minion Trojan, Rialto Trojan, Truman, Trojandude207 and all these guys bet Pudly76 and Owns too. They got tired of selective moderation. It been fun look for me on the real blogs

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Stephen, whenever I try to leave two links in a post, it gets blocked. It says “awaiting moderation”, but of course there is no moderator. Scottie downloaded a free “moderation” app and installed it, and apparently, you get what you pay for.


  2. the leader of a #1 ranked USC…at a time when ucla dominated bsktbl& only for a time like when John Rudometkin did it 10 years earlier…SC has had many all Americans in bsktbl,but he was the best and SC was the best it has ever been.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Michael: I am shocked you were friends with a Bruin basketball player. Speaking of Bruin- where is Owns……….perhaps once his Bruin surrendered and canceled the Holiday Bowl he headed South to Ensenada.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My best buddy, Terry Schofield, was a Bruin — and….my wife was a Bruin….and my son graduated from UCLA (I guess that makes him a Bruin)….
      [I boxed Terry and got two pretty nice left hooks in before he beat the shit outta me]….

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Paul Westphal was probably the greatest USC basketball player ever. It was sad we lost him in January to brain cancer.

    That 1971 USC Basketball Team- was tremendous- Dennis Mo Layton, Paul Westphal were the guards, George Watson/Chris Schrobilgen, and Joe Mackey at forward, and the “Spoon” Ron Riley at Center who was a rebounding machine. Leroy Cobb, Dana Padgett, Monroe Nash, and Big Billy Taylor came off the bench.

    I will never forget they were up by around 12 against UCLA at the Sports Arena, and then blew the lead to Wicks, Rowe, and Patterson which was quite sad, and cost us a trip to the NCAA’s with only 2 losses the entire season. It was the first time I had ever seen the Sports Arena completely sold out.

    Paul Westphal use to often say losing that game was probably one of the biggest disappointments in his career. I would have to agree after being a USC basketball fan for many years.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Good article, but it failed to address by far the most significant play of the game. I was sitting at midcourt in the student section. With a little less than 7 minutes to go, and USC leading 59-50, there was a loose ball right in front of me. Several players converged, but Ron Riley got there a split second late, and was called for a ticky-tack, reaching in foul. This was his 4th foul, and Bob Boyd had to bench him. Up to that point in the game, Riley had been more than holding his own against Wicks, Rowe and Patterson. With Bill Taylor in the game, the Bruin trio dominated. USC missed several easy, wide open shots, as well as some free throws, and didn’t get many rebounds the rest of the way. By the time Riley returned to the game, UCLA was ahead, never to give up the lead. In retrospect, it was the most significant BB loss to UCLA in my lifetime, because it cost us a real shot at the Final Four / National Championship.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. USC was so undersized. Riley and Mackey had the hearts of lions. They took on the best team that money could buy, and almost won.

      From Bill Walton:

      “UCLA players were so well taken care of – far beyond the ground rules of the NCAA – that even players from poor backgrounds never left UCLA prematurely (for pro basketball) during John Wooden’s championship years.

      “If the UCLA teams of the late 1960s and early 1970s were subjected to the kind of scrutiny (other schools) have been, UCLA would probably have to forfeit about eight national championships and be on probation for the next 100 years.”

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Interesting comments from Wooden especially re ambidexterity. Remember watching a slow-motion replay of Westphal once and thinking he had the textbook jump shot.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I was at that game and had a seat practically on the floor because I was friends with one of the SC assistant coaches.

    I figured that the front line of Wicks, Rowe and Patterson would be too much for the game, but smaller Trojans. (And in the second meeting that year sucla killed SC).
    And so I placed a $1000 bet on sucla.

    When sucla was behind 9 points I was sweating, and when they won I felt like a
    $50 prostitute, having sold out and wanting sucla to win. (but I was still relieved that I had won $1000).

    Never did that again. Ever. Money is not the root of all evil, but it is the root of a lot of it.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I paid Paul Westphal some deserved compliments. What do you make of Bob Stoops? Lincoln Riley wanted to get out from under this guy at OU and build his own program at USC✌️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Whether hiring Riley was a designed plan or whether he fell into USCs lap, there realistically is no better hire out there. Swinney going nowhere, Saban is over 70. It is great for college football as it makes the west coast relevant again, and will spread out talent. At OKL, his recruiting class was on average around 10th. At USC, it should be in top 5 going forward.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. OU played very physical football tonight. USC really missed out not getting that OU offensive line coach who elected to stay at OU rather than come to USC.

    The OU offense has me excited we can run the ball again with some good physical offensive lineman, and this offense can be terrific with a DUAL THREAT MOBILE QB who can run and pass to keep the defense honest.
    I am sure Lincoln Riley hopes Dart can get the job done, but deep down he knows he needs to grab a dual threat qb in the portal to really get the SC offense going quickly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. An offensive line that can block, a QB who can run & throw and receivers who can catch the ball in traffic — what an amazing formula Oklahoma has come up with!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. However, Michael, remember back in the day when a running quarterback was as rare as a black quarterback. And some of those guys like Bradshaw, Unitas and that Tampa Bay guy did ok

        Nice to have a great dual quarterback if you can find one, but it seems a coach should first look for a thrower.

        And speaking of colleges stealing other college’s football coaches, people’s opinions range from deplorable ethics to good old American competition.
        Take your pick

        Meanwhile, I am awaiting the Alabama-Georgia game to materialize after passing on the Cincy and Michigan beatdowns.

        And miss a Rose Bowl game for the first time in my life? Yep, neither team interests me, and the Buckeyes will probably out-speed the tough but slower Utes.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Agree about Bedenbaugh to SC…that would’ve been big (and it would’ve f’d over OU). I am normally not so vindictive, but I’ve had an @ssful of OU fans. For a coach they reportedly hated, they sure are whining and now making Medium Game Bob to be the 2nd coming of Christ. They were all over him about choking in every big game, sans his Natty, right out of the gate. FWIW, I like Bob.
      I get being bummed about losing your coach but, Doth Protest Too Much. Nothing against Venables but I’d like to see OU go in the tank, just to F-over OU fans. For this, I’ve added a 2nd team to root against…slide over bruins.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Speaking of UCLA — I hear their OWN fans have had a belly full of their crap after this latest fiasco. Watch Rose Bowl attendance drop from 799 to 666 in 2022.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. As a CA taxpayer, why the F does ucla get to waste taxpayer $$ to go to a game that they weren’t going to play in?

        Ed G, can you get on this? Bring in the missus if needed to get to the bottom of it.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. UCLA has disgraced itself thoroughly —this ain’t going away.

        Liked by 1 person

    3. I don’t see any of the QBs still in the portal dominating Dart or Moss. A well-considered and disciplined game plan and an effective o-line will do wonders for either of those kids.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree. Dart should be able to do anything Riley (or even tommyd) wants him to do —he’s an athlete (unlike Slovis who was a thrower, not an all-purpose QB).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. One day the Helton years – with Neil Calloway, Graham Harrell, Clancy Pendergast, Todd Orlando et. al. – will fade from memory. That day can’t come soon enough.

        tune in around the 9 minute mark

        “Mercy, what a great day to be a Georgia Southern Eagle!”

        “My bride, Miss Angela!”

        “The Lord came to me and took care of me and gave me this opportunity of excellence”


        Liked by 1 person

      3. Georgia Southern –“The Platinum Standard for College Football on a National Scale!”…… ?!?!!?


  9. You guys are all sold on Dart. He looked good against WSU, but not so good the rest of the games. We will know soon if Riley is going with Dart…I am hearing he will grab another QB in the Portal which makes alot of sense in case Dart gets hurt again…..I say we need another QB that can run a little bit as we have struggled in the red zone the last few years.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Why we struggle in the Red Zone” [By Michael Guarino]…
      Teams are willing to let us run rather than pass —in fact they welcome it cuz they don’t think we can get down the field that way without fucking up. And mostly they’re right. But when we DO get into the red zone they stiffen and we get nowhere.
      The end.


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