As a key part of the Showtime Lakers, Michael Cooper helped the team win five titles. Currently, he works for the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream as their head coach. Unfortunately, the former Laker has been diagnosed with early-stage tongue cancer and will need to take a leave of absence from the team.
According to a statement released through the Dream, Cooper is optimistic about his condition and trusts those in charge:
The doctors and staff at Emory have been tremendous, and I know I’m in good hands. I’m fortunate that my condition was diagnosed early, and this episode illustrates the importance of screening and early detection.
The team also announced Cooper will under go treatment and could be back soon:
Cooper will undergo a surgical procedure this week at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University in Atlanta. Typical recovery time for the procedure is two weeks. A full recovery is anticipated following the surgical procedure.
Cooper was drafted by the Lakers in the 1978 Draft and spent his entire NBA career in Los Angeles. While playing for the Lakers, Cooper was highly regarded for his defense often being assigned the opposing team’s best shooter.
After his retirement, he took up coaching having served as an assistant for the Lakers as well as head coach for the Los Angeles Sparks and the USC Women’s basketball team. With the Sparks, he won the NBA Coach of the Year award in 2000 and followed up by leading the team to two WNBA Championships in 2001 and 2002.
This season is Cooper’s first with the Dream and has them atop the Eastern Conference with a record of 15-6. In his absence, Dream assistant Karleen Thompson will take over coaching duties.
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