Only the finest and most storied sports figures to ever play, coach, report or in any way represent the Valley enter the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame.
Monday night, two more were welcomed in and honored for their contributions and eternal impact on the game of basketball and the Valley.
Congratulations, Ann Meyers Drysdale and Paul Westphal, Class of 2021!
Ann and Paul were welcomed into the Hall by Charles Barkley and JoAnn Fitzsimmons, wife to the late coach Cotton. Chuck and Cotton were inducted in 2015.
Drysdale was a trail blazer who just wanted to play ball but ended up doing so much more. She broke through barriers, fought for equality and changed the game.
She was the first female to get a four-year athletic scholarship to any university, with a career filled with firsts. Her college career included four All-American nominations, a AIAW national championship, first player of either sex to record a quadruple-double in NCAA history, the 1978 Honda Sports Award for most outstanding women’s college basketball player and the 1978 Broderick Cup as the most outstanding female athlete.
Did she stop there, though? No, of course not. Or I wouldn’t be writing this.
She was the first woman to earn an NBA tryout, and she ended up signing with the Indiana Pacers. Throw in three gold medals, three silver medals and being named to the FIBA Hall of Fame class.
Wait, I’m not done.
Ann was one of the first female NBA color analysts and still calls both Suns and Mercury games.
With the belief that anything is possible, it’s no surprise she made it here. Let’s have a round applause for Ann Meyers Drysdale.
Now, how about Paul Westphal?
RIP Westy. January 2nd was a very sad day and part of the reason why I really wanted the Phoenix Suns to win the championship last season, for him. We lost a great one. Yes, I cried as I’m sure many of you did as well.
The man left a serious mark on the franchise both on and off the court. He had an amazing mind and a very respectable character, being an elite player and coach.
He guided the Cinderella Suns to the 1976 NBA Finals as a key player and also led the 1993 team to the NBA Finals as head coach. Westphal entered the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019, also.
Succeeding Cotton, I’m sure he got a standing ovation in paradise Monday night.
Let’s give him one here as well. Congrats, Westy!