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Paul Westhead: Wikis


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Paul Westhead (born February 21, 1939 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is a basketball coach who is currently in his first season as head coach of the University of Oregon women's team. He has previously been a head coach for three NBA teams and an assistant for two others, and has also coached in the NCAA and WNBA. He won titles in both the NBA and WNBA, and is also remembered as the coach of the Loyola Marymount University men's basketball team during that school's era of greatest basketball glory. Westhead is known for an unorthodox, run-and-gun style. He attended Saint Joseph's University.


La Salle

Westhead began his coaching career with the La Salle University men's basketball team in 1970. 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.

Los Angeles Lakers

Westhead started his NBA coaching career at the top of the NBA world, succeeding Jack McKinney as the coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. 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. However, the team lost in the playoffs the next year to the Moses Malone-led Houston Rockets. Westhead was fired early in his third season with the Lakers, and replaced with Pat Riley. Although 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 Laker owner Jerry Buss wanted to fire Westhead several days prior to the actual occurrence. The entire Laker team did not get along with Westhead, yet Johnson was the only player to speak out publicly. In retrospect, Johnson's outburst accelerated the decision to let Westhead go.

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 men's basketball program. From 1985-1990, Westhead oversaw an impressive run in which LMU—a smaller school which is 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 nearby USC, and rewrote many NCAA record books with Loyola Marymount's famous, up-tempo, run-and-gun style.

From 1988 to1990, 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 in their conference tournament of Gathers, 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, blowing out defending champion Michigan in the 2nd round and making it to the Elite Eight before losing to eventual champion UNLV.

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, including 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")[1]. 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, but only improved to 24 wins. Westhead was fired from the Nuggets after two seasons after posting a combined W/L 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 1993-1997. 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.

Orlando Magic

From 2003 to 2005 Westhead was an assistant coach with the Orlando Magic under head coach Johnny Davis. Prior to that he was head coach in the ABA (2000-01) and in the Japanese Pro League (2001-03).

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.

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. He was relieved of his duties as an assistant on November 21, 2008.[2]

University of Oregon, Women's Basketball

On March 26, 2009 University of Oregon Athletic Director Pat Kilkenny announced that Paul Westhead as the Ducks' newest head coach. As the sixth head coach in the history of the Oregon women’s basketball, this will be Westhead’s first job as head coach of an NCAA women’s program.


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