Catching Up With Westphal

By Jason Wise

How would you characterize your current preparations for the upcoming season?

“Right now, it’s unusual territory just because of the lockout. We can’t have any contact with the players, which ordinarily we’d be helping them workout and guiding them. So, we are pretty much limited to just watching tape and planning things we might want to do differently — different calls we might make and different ideas we are bouncing around. It’s pretty difficult to not have any contact with the players.”

What are your favorite things to do in your free time?

“I have a couple of grandkids, so finding the time to hang with them is always a bonus. I like to play golf, although, I don’t play that often and certainly don’t play that well. My wife and I are also taking a cruise to Alaska, spending time with the family — whatever direction my wife, Mrs. Westphal, wants to go that’s where we’ll go.”

You’ve been known to dominate H.O.R.S.E. competitions. Do you think there are any other coaches or front office personnel who could challenge you?

“They could challenge me, but they’d have to work their way up!”

Is there a specific person you think might pose a good challenge?

“It’s tough because I did win the H.O.R.S.E. Championship. I’m probably too old to beat some of these guys now, but on the other hand, if they don’t have a good left hand they better not miss because if they can’t match left-handed shots from inside 15 feet, then they might be in trouble.”

Many of today’s youth have heard stories about your trick-shot ability, but what are some of the fun moments you’ve had that may not have been as publicized?

“I used to love playing in the backyard. I don’t know if that’s publicized or not. Any time we could get a basketball game — whether it was with my dad and brother, or anybody in the neighborhood — the sheer joy of competing is something I value more than anything else. We used to drive all around L.A. Wherever the games were … in the inner-city going in to play games – I think that’s where the best competition was and that’s where some of the best memories are.”

You’ve had a chance to be a part of many different generations of basketball, as a player, coach and in the front office. Do you think the change in statistics, scouting and technology has really had a significant impact on the game?

“I think those things add tools to a coach’s arsenal and also to the enjoyment of the game. I think basketball is a very difficult sport to quantify in comparison to baseball where you can pretty much find a statistic that holds up in a lot of different areas. In basketball you are so dependent on your teammates.  If you receive a good pass at the right time from your teammates or if they are running plays to your strengths or who you are playing against, success comes a lot easier. A lot of the stats are interesting but they are not as insightful as what you can learn by observing with your own two eyes what’s going on.”

While many facets of the game have changed, styles and players’ personas have always been prevalent. Who from your generation stood out as charismatic player, on and off the court?

“Certainly, Pete Maravich had flair. People loved watching him play because of the way he approached the game and the excitement he brought to it. Walt Frazier was a player who had a huge following in New York.”

Do you have any specific memories about Walt Frazier?

“I remember when I was playing with the Celtics, and before a game he said, “Hi, Paul,” and I was taken aback because I was really thrilled that he knew who I was. He was a big icon at the time. The Knicks were winning some championships at that time. Certainly, that made him seem bigger than life to some college kid from Southern California in his first few months in the NBA.”

On Thursday, one lucky fan will have the chance to face Westphal for the Kings H.O.R.S.E. Challenge Title at Power Balance Pavilion! Stay current with for the announcement of future Fan Appreciation events.

Watch: Westphal Defeats John Williamson for H.O.R.S.E. Championship

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