On Paul Westphal's Phoenix Success

I hate to beat a drum over and over and over, but hearing from Amick that Paul Westphal has a handshake deal with the Maloofs to take over the team for $1.5 million next season really gets my goat cheese. (I was using that goat cheese, dammit.)

A reader passed on this Seattle Times sidebar from 1998, when the Sonics hired Westphal to succeed George Karl. It has a "the good and the bad" breakdown -- you can see it all for yourself. One of the "bad" notes stuck out.

Was groomed by Cotton Fitzsimmons for four years as an assistant coach, then saw Fitzsimmons contribute to his firing after Westphal ascended to the head-coaching job. Fitzsimmons was scathingly critical of Westphal during Sun radio broadcasts, and took back over as coach when Westphal was fired.

No one will argue that a talent drain contributed to the fall of the Phoenix Suns during the '90s. Charles Barkley got old fast, and Kevin Johnson had injury problems. But it's a bit surprising to hear someone as respected -- one of the NBA's winningest coaches -- was "scathingly critical" of his long-time student. I obviously didn't listen to Phoenix Suns radio broadcasts in the early '90s, but this is a bit unsettling. In addition to the other unsettling divorces Westphal has experienced in Seattle and Malibu.

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