TOP OF THE TOWN – Former Seattle Sonics player and coach Paul Westphal has died at age 70 from brain cancer diagnosed in August of 2020. Westphal came to the Sonics in 1980 when he was traded from the Phoenix Suns for Dennis Johnson, who would later star for the Boston Celtics. He played for the Sonics just that one season, averaging 16.7 points in an injury-filled season that limited him to just 36 games. Westphal came back to the Sonics in 1998 as its coach and compiled a 77-71 record from 1998-2001. His coaching record is 318-279 and includes one NBA final in 1993 with the Phoenix Suns. He last worked in the NBA with the Brooklyn Nets as an assistant coach from 2014-2016. Westphal was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in 2019 and his number 44 is retired by the Suns and his number 25 by the Southern California Trojans where he played as a college player…. I’m not surprised Alabama rocked Notre Dame in the CFP semifinals. I thought early on that Oklahoma should have been the No. 4 teams, not Notre Dame. The Sooners lost back-to-back games in last September and early October to Kansas State (38-35) and Iowa State (37-30), but then won eight straight, including the Cotton Bowl over Florida 55-20. They reversed the loss to Iowa State in the Big-12 championship game, 27-21 and averaged 46 points a game in their eight-game winning streak. So, yeah, I think the Sooners would have put up a whale of a fight against Alabama…. I’m not sold on the Seahawks being a Super Bowl contender. I believe the teams in the east are a lot better than their records. The talk most of the season has been that the NFC West is the toughest division, but I think that is suspect. I think the NFC East is a lot tougher than given credit. The Hawks had a tough time with Washington and a back-up QB (Dwayne Haskins) who is no longer with the team and is out of the league, and they lost to the New York Giants. Those teams are tough to play against and teams like the New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay are all teams the Hawks would probably not beat. In the AFC there are the Buffalo Bills (who already beat the Hawks), Miami (which the Hawks struggled to beat), the Steelers, Browns and Ravens, all very good teams, The Titans and Colts and, of course, the once-beaten Chiefs. On any given Sunday, of course, any team in the NFL can win, proven by the woeful New York Jets. So if the Mosher jinx is still working this will mean the Seahawks will win the Super Bowl. If I had to bet it would be the Packers or Tom Brady and Tampa Bay coming out of the NFC and Buffalo in the AFC. I’d go with the Bills to win it all … Larry Sampson who built a big winner at Olympic College in basketball in the early 1970s when he had 6-10 Larry Jackson pumping in points (Jackson would play for Marv Harshman at the University of Washington) and Marvin Buckley wowing a packed house at OC’s cracker box gym, is not doing well. He and wife Beth moved to Hawaii nearly eight years ago and have enjoyed the fun and sun (and golf). According to son Scott, who DM me, he is on dialysis while doctors combat an autoimmune disease. I’m praying for him. Sam is one of the good guys. … I’m packing away my coin that I used to predict football winners his crazy COVID-infected football season. I may even throw it away after going 67.7 percent with a record of 291-139-1. I figure somebody that has 70 years of being around sports should do better than this. Seventy-five percent would work. But, hey, it was fun to test myself. And it was more fun to know we had at least a football season, as broken up as it was. Hopefully, we will have a much better 2021.

Be well pal.

Be careful out there.

Have a great day.

You are loved.