Paul Westhead, fired as the head coach of the...

INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- Paul Westhead, fired as the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, Friday chose to remember the good times instead of the way he was dismissed.

Westhead was fired Thursday by team owner Jerry Buss after Laker star Earvin 'Magic' Johnson had singled the coach out as the reason for his unhappiness and the team's lackluster start this season.


The Lakers got off to a slow start this year under Westhead's somewhat complicated offense but had won their last five games before the coach was dismissed.

Westhead was replaced by two men -- former assistant Pat Riley, who will officially be the team's head coach, and former NBA great Jerry West, who was appointed 'offensive coach' by Buss.

Westhead, a former Laker assistant coach, took over the team in 1979 after head coach Jack McKinney sustained a serious head injury in a bicycle crash. That year the Lakers went on to win the NBA championship.

'It doesn't seem that long ago that I was successful in achieving the ultimate, winning the world championship,' Westhead said while cleaning out his office.

'The evaluation of whether this was a fair decision is not mine to make. I did the job to the best of my ablilty and I hold no grudges against anyone in the Laker organization.'


Westhead said his only goal was to look for another coaching job, preferably in the NBA. He reportedly was given a four-year, $250,000-per-season contract several months ago and said he was confident the Lakers would honor the pact.

'Jerry Buss had indicated verbally that the agreement would be honored,' Westhead said.

But he made it clear he wouldn't be content to just collect the money and take a long vacation, saying he hoped NBA teams would contact him about a possible coaching job.

'Sure, I'm disappointed,' said Westhead, who compiled a 102-50 record with the Lakers. 'But I am a career basketball coach. I deal with basketball. My job is to win games. When you're a career person you do what you do best.'

Westhead disagreed with Buss's comment that the Lakers' running game had been slowed down by the newly implemented offense.

'I relentlessly pursued a running game,' Westhead said. 'I am a fastbreak basketball coach.'

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