Ex-basketball star Spencer Haywood says his cocaine addiction ruined his career and marriage, and led him to hire a mobster to kill coach Paul Westhead after Westhead suspended Haywood during the 1979-80 NBA finals.

"I left the (os Angeles) Forum and drove off in my Rolls that night thinking one thought - that Westhead must die," Haywood says in a first-person article about his cocaine addiction in this week's People magazine. "I drove through the streets plotting the man's murder."In the heat of anger and the daze of coke, I phoned an old friend of mine in Detroit . . . a genuine certified gangster. . . . We sat down and figured it out. Westhead lived in Palos Verdes, and we got his street address. We would sabotage his car, mess with his brake lining."

But the mother of the former Olympic basketball star persuaded him not to go through with the plot against Westhead, then coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.

During the finals against the Philadelphia 76ers, Haywood passed out at a practice after a night of smoking cocaine; that was followed by an argument with teammates Jim Chones and Brad Holland. Westhead responded with the suspension following Game 3.

The Lakers went on to win the NBA title under Westhead, who now coaches basketball at Loyola-Marymount University in Los Angeles.

When informed of Haywood's story, Westhead told the Los Angeles Times, "At the time, I did what I felt I had to do (uspend Haywood) to save the team. And I would do it again."

Haywood, 39, who says he has remained free of drugs since 1984 treatment at a California rehabilitation center, heads his own real estate company in Detroit, and is founder of a foundation that sponsors basketball and educational summer camps for inner-city youth.

He blamed his drug use for helping to break up his marriage to the fashion model Iman. The couple divorced last year.