Paul Westhead

Last updated
Paul Westhead
Personal information
Born (1939-02-21) February 21, 1939 (age 83)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Career information
High school West Catholic Preparatory
(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
College Saint Joseph's (1958–1961)
Coaching career1970–2014
Career history
As coach:
1970–1979 La Salle
1979 Los Angeles Lakers (assistant)
19791981 Los Angeles Lakers
1982–1983 Chicago Bulls
1985–1990 Loyola Marymount
19901992 Denver Nuggets
1993–1997 George Mason
19971999 Golden State Warriors (assistant)
2000–2001 Los Angeles Stars
2001–2003 Panasonic Super Kangaroos
2003 Long Beach Jam
20032005 Orlando Magic (assistant)
20062007 Phoenix Mercury
20072009 Seattle SuperSonics / Oklahoma City Thunder (assistant)
2009–2014 Oregon
Career highlights and awards
As head coach:
Career coaching record
NBA183–224 (.450)
WNBA41–27 (.603)
College (men's)285–223 (.561)
College (women's)66–92 (.418)

Paul William Westhead (born February 21, 1939) is an American Retired basketball coach. He was the head coach for three National Basketball Association (NBA) teams and an assistant for four others, and also coached in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), American Basketball Association (ABA), and Japan Basketball League (JBL). In his first year as an NBA head coach, he led a rookie Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers to the 1980 NBA Finals, which they won in six games for the team's first title in eight years. Westhead won titles in both the NBA and WNBA, and he is also remembered as the coach of the Loyola Marymount University (LMU) men's basketball team. Westhead is known for an unorthodox, run-and-gun style called "The System.” He was nicknamed "The Professor" due to his former career as an English teacher prior to coaching and his tendency to quote Shakespeare and other literary sources while coaching. He attended Saint Joseph's University.

Contents

1970s

Cheltenham High School

Westhead started his coaching career at Cheltenham High School in suburban Philadelphia; in 1968, he coached the Panthers to a loss in the Pennsylvania state championship. [1] One of his players at Cheltenham was future University of Virginia Athletic Director Craig Littlepage. [2]

La Salle University

Westhead coached the La Salle University men's basketball team starting in 1970 while also teaching as a professor in the English Department. Westhead led the Explorers to one NIT and two NCAA tournament appearances in nine seasons (1970–1979). He finished with a record of 142–105.

1980s

Los Angeles Lakers

Westhead started his NBA head coaching career by succeeding Jack McKinney as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers after serving briefly as his assistant (Westhead initially became interim head coach after McKinney was hospitalized due to a serious bicycle accident). With rookie guard Magic Johnson and longtime star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the Lakers won the 1980 NBA Finals in Westhead's first year as coach, defeating Philadelphia in six games for the first title in their Showtime era. However, the team lost in the playoffs the next year to the Moses Malone-led Houston Rockets. Tensions grew between Westhead and Magic Johnson, as Johnson wanted Westhead to implement a fast break offense involving all five players that he felt better suited his style of play, while Westhead was insistent to continue running an isolation style offense centered on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Westhead was fired early in his third season with the Lakers, and replaced with Pat Riley (whom Westhead had hired as an assistant). It is commonly believed that Magic Johnson orchestrated Westhead's ouster. A 1987 book called Winnin' Times (about the Los Angeles Lakers' franchise history) indicated that the Lakers' owner, Jerry Buss, wanted to fire Westhead several days prior to the actual occurrence, which is not mutually exclusive of the notion that Johnson had orchestrated it. In 1982, Buss said, "The irony, which makes what Magic did unfortunate, is that I had already decided to fire him. But I don't think anyone will ever totally believe that." [3] Westhead finished his Lakers stint with a 111–50 record.

Chicago Bulls

Westhead was the head coach of the Chicago Bulls for the 1982–83 season, but lasted only one season as the Bulls went 28–54. Prior to that season, the Bulls traded away all-star center Artis Gilmore to the San Antonio Spurs, and the franchise was still two years away from the debut of Michael Jordan.

Loyola Marymount

Westhead returned to the college ranks, and took over as the head coach of the Loyola Marymount Lions men's basketball program. From 1985 to 1990, Westhead oversaw an impressive run in which Loyola Marymount, despite being a smaller school and not a traditional NCAA basketball power, became a legitimate contender in NCAA hoops. Westhead lured star players like Hank Gathers and Bo Kimble, who both transferred from USC, and rewrote many NCAA record books with Loyola Marymount's famous, up-tempo, run-and-gun style.

From 1988 to 1990, Westhead's teams went 27–3, 20–10 and 23–5 respectively, earning NCAA tournament berths each year. Gathers led the NCAA in scoring and rebounding (32.7 ppg, 13.7 rpg) in 1989 and Kimble led the NCAA in scoring in 1990 (35.3 ppg). After the on-court death of Gathers in its conference tournament, LMU went on an inspired run in the NCAA tournament in 1990 that captured the attention of the entire college basketball world for those weeks. The Lions blew out defending champion Michigan in the 2nd round and made it to the Regional Final round before losing to eventual champion UNLV.

Westhead's teams led Division I in scoring in 1988 (110.3 points per game), 1989 (112.5), and 1990 (122.4). [4] LMU's 122.4 point per game in 1990 was still a record as of 2020. [5] As of April 2012, Loyola Marymount held the five highest combined score games in Division I history. Four of the five occurred during Westhead's career, including a record 331 in the 181–150 win over United States International University on January 31, 1989. [6]

1990s

Denver Nuggets

After the 1989–1990 season, Westhead left LMU for the NBA's Denver Nuggets, a position he held for two seasons. His tenure in Denver was best known for attempting to incorporate the run-and-gun offense that worked for LMU to the NBA.

However, while Denver averaged a league-best 119.9 points per game in 1990–91, it also surrendered an NBA record 130.8 points per game. Their opponents never scored fewer than 100 points in any game, and only four opponents failed to score at least 110 points. [7] They gave up 107 points in a single half to the Phoenix Suns, which remains an NBA record. Under Westhead, the Nuggets were sometimes called the "Enver Nuggets" (as in no "D," or no defense). The next year the Nuggets drafted Dikembe Mutombo, who made the All-Star team, and played at a more conservative pace scoring just 99.7 points per game. However, they only improved to 24 wins, largely because they continued to give up points so quickly that even their prolific offense couldn't keep up. Westhead was fired after posting a combined two-year record of 44–120.

George Mason

Following his tenure with the Nuggets, Westhead returned to college coaching as the head coach of George Mason University from 1993 to 1997. This time, Westhead's run-and-gun style did not succeed at the college level, ending his tenure at Mason with a 38–70 record. Westhead was succeeded at Mason by Jim Larranaga after the 1996–1997 season.

Golden State Warriors

From 1997 to 1999, Westhead was an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors under head coach P. J. Carlesimo. [8]

2000s

Los Angeles Stars

Westhead was the head coach of the Los Angeles Stars in the inaugural season of the new ABA in 2000–2001. [9]

Panasonic Super Kangaroos

Westhead was the head coach of the Panasonic Super Kangaroos of the Japan Basketball League from 2001 to 2003. [10]

Long Beach Jam

Westhead returned to the ABA as the head coach of Long Beach Jam in 2003. He coached the team for only one game before returning to the NBA. [11]

Orlando Magic

From 2003 to 2005, Westhead was an assistant coach with the Orlando Magic under head coach Johnny Davis.

Phoenix Mercury

In 2005, Westhead was hired as the head coach of the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury, a position that he held until the 2007 WNBA season concluded. In 2007, Westhead coached the Mercury to a WNBA championship, making him the only coach to win a championship in the NBA and the WNBA. The Mercury won using Westhead's fast-paced approach. [12]

Seattle SuperSonics/Oklahoma City Thunder

On September 27, 2007 he agreed to a contract with the NBA's Seattle SuperSonics to be an assistant coach under longtime friend P. J. Carlesimo. When Carlesimo was relieved of his duties on November 21, 2008, Westhead was also released as an assistant at that time. [13]

2010s

University of Oregon, women's basketball

On March 26, 2009 University of Oregon Athletic Director Pat Kilkenny introduced Paul Westhead as the Ducks' newest head coach. As the sixth head coach in the history of Oregon women's basketball, this was Westhead's first job as head coach of an NCAA women's program (although he had coached women's teams at the professional level before).

On March 4, 2014, the University of Oregon announced that they would not renew Westhead's contract, which expired March 31, 2014. Westhead was 65–90 overall at Oregon and 27–64 in conference play in five seasons. Westhead's Oregon contract was worth more than $3 million for five years, with his final season earning him $675,000. [14]

Head coaching record

Men's college basketball

Statistics overview
SeasonTeamOverallConferenceStandingPostseason
La Salle Explorers (Middle Atlantic Conferences)(1970–1974)
1970–71 La Salle 20–75–12nd (East) NIT first round
1971–72 La Salle 6–192–4T–4th (East)
1972–73 La Salle 15–103–34th (East)
1973–74 La Salle 18–105–1T–1st (East)
La Salle Explorers (East Coast Conference)(1974–1979)
1974–75 La Salle 22–75–1T–1st (East) NCAA Division I first round
1975–76 La Salle 11–151–4T–5th (East)
1976–77 La Salle 17–123–23rd (East)
1977–78 La Salle 18–125–01st (East) NCAA Division I first round
1978–79 La Salle 15–1310–33rd (East)
La Salle:142–105 (.575)
Loyola Marymount Lions (West Coast Conference)(1985–1990)
1985–86 Loyola Marymount 19–1110–42nd NIT second round
1986–87 Loyola Marymount 12–164–108th
1987–88 Loyola Marymount 28–414–01st NCAA Division I second round
1988–89 Loyola Marymount 20–1110–4T–2nd NCAA Division I first round
1989–90 Loyola Marymount 26–613–11st NCAA Division I Elite Eight
Loyola Marymount:105–48 (.686)51–19 (.729)
George Mason Patriots (Colonial Athletic Association)(1993–1997)
1993–94 George Mason 10–175–9T–6th
1994–95 George Mason 7–202–128th
1995–96 George Mason 11–166–10T–6th
1996–97 George Mason 10–174–129th
George Mason:38–70 (.352)17–44 (.279)
Total:285–223 (.561)

      National champion        Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion        Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion      Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

NBA

Legend
Regular seasonGGames coachedWGames wonLGames lostW–L %Win–loss %
PlayoffsPGPlayoff gamesPWPlayoff winsPLPlayoff lossesPW–L %Playoff win–loss %
TeamYearGWLW–L%FinishPGPWPLPW–L%Result
Los Angeles 1979–80 685018.7351st in Pacific16124.750Won NBA Championship
Los Angeles 1980–81 825428.6592nd in Pacific312.333Lost in first round
Los Angeles 1981–82 1174.636(fired)
Chicago 1982–83 822854.3414th in CentralMissed Playoffs
Denver 1990–91 822062.2447th in MidwestMissed Playoffs
Denver 1991–92 822458.2934th in MidwestMissed Playoffs
Career407183224.45019136.684

WNBA

Legend
Regular seasonGGames coachedWGames wonLGames lostW–L %Win–loss %
PlayoffsPGPlayoff gamesPWPlayoff winsPLPlayoff lossesPW–L %Playoff win–loss %
TeamYearGWLW–L%FinishPGPWPLPW–L%Result
PHX 2006 341816.5295th in WestMissed Playoffs
PHX 2007 342311.6761st in West972.778Won WNBA Finals
Career684127.603973.778

Women's college basketball

Statistics overview
SeasonTeamOverallConferenceStandingPostseason
Oregon Ducks (Pacific-10/Pac-12 Conference)(2009–2014)
2009–10 Oregon 18–167–11T–6th WNIT third round
2010–11Oregon 13–174–149th
2011–12Oregon 15–167–119th
2012–13 Oregon 4–272–1612th
2013–14 Oregon 16–166–1210th WNIT second round
Oregon:66–92 (.418)26–64 (.289)
Total:66–92 (.418)

Notes

  1. "Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association". www.piaa.org.
  2. http://cheltenhamalumni.org/BIOS/littlepage-craig.htm [ bare URL ]
  3. Johnson, Roy S.; Times, Special To the New York (1982-06-03). "Westhead the Forgotten Man". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved 2020-07-25.
  4. NCAA 2010, p.39
  5. NCAA 2010, p.5
  6. NCAA 2010, pp.28–29
  7. "Basketbawful".
  8. "Warriors name Paul Westhead assistant coach". AP NEWS.
  9. Ford, Bob (February 4, 2001). "Still Crazy After All These Years A New Professional League Has Given Paul Westhead, That Mad Professor Of Up-tempo Basketball, Yet Another Laboratory In Which To Experiment". The Philadelphia Inquirer . Retrieved July 17, 2011.
  10. "Westhead hired by JBL team". The Japan Times. August 8, 2001.
  11. Guardabascio, Mike; Trevino, Chris (2015-09-28). Basketball in Long Beach. ISBN   9781625854612.
  12. "Taurasi, Pondexter lead Mercury to second title in three years". www.espn.com. Retrieved 2009-10-10.
  13. "NBA-worst Thunder fire Carlesimo after 1-12 start". ESPN.com. November 22, 2008.
  14. Greif, Andrew (March 4, 2014). "Oregon Ducks will not renew Paul Westhead's contract as women's basketball head coach". oregonlive.com. The Oregonian. Retrieved March 7, 2014.

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References