Cooper, Fitch, Westphal among Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2019


Three players and a coach with Celtics connections were elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame and will be enshrined in the Hall in Springfield, Mass. in September.

Chuck Cooper, the first African-American to be drafted in the the NBA when Red Auerbach selected him in 1950; Bill Fitch, who coached in the NBA for 25 seasons, including coaching the Celtics to Larry Bird's first NBA championship in 1981; Paul Westphal, a first-round Celtics draft pick who later starred for the Phoenix Suns and Seattle SuperSonics; and Carl Braun, who finished his career on the C's title winners in 1962; are part of the Hall's Class of 2019.

Also inducted were Al Attles, Vlade Divac, Bobby Jones, Sidney Moncrief, Jack Sikma, Teresa Weatherspoon, the Wayland Baptist Flying Queens and the 1957-59 Tennessee A&I team. 

A finalist needed 18 of 24 votes from the Hall's Honors Committee for election. Enshrinement ceremonies are Sept. 5-7 at the Hall. Cooper was selected by the Hall's special direct-elect Early African-American Pioneers Committee.

Cooper, who died of cancer in 1984 at 57, was a former Duquesne University drafted by Boston 13th overall on April 25, 1950.

Fitch was named NBA Coach of the Year twice (1976, 1980) and in 1996 was named to the NBA’s Ten Best Coaches of All Time list and still holds the highest winning percentage in Celtics history (.738). He was 328-242 in four seasons with the C's.

Westphal was drafted by Auerbach in the first round out of Southern Cal and was part of the C's '74 title team but was traded to the Suns for guard Charlie Scott and became a five-time All-Star (1977-81) and three-time All-NBA first teamer (1977, 1979, 1980) with the Seattle SuperSonics. In his 12 NBA seasons, he averaged 15.6 points and 4.4 assists per game, including more than 20 points per game for five consecutive seasons. He later was a coach in the NBA.

Braun, who died in 2010, starred for the Knicks in the '50s and played his final season with Boston in 1962.

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