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Coach Michael Cooper
WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks
WNBA career 2000–2009
Regular season 187–97 (.658)
Postseason 25–13 (.658)
Championships 2 (2001, 2002)
Profile WNBA Info Page
WNBA Head Coach of
Los Angeles Sparks (2000-2004, 2007-2009)
WNBA Assistant Coach of
Los Angeles Sparks (1999)
Awards and Honors
WNBA Coach of the Year (2000)
Michael Cooper
Position(s) Guard/Forward
Jersey #(s) 21
Listed height 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Listed weight 170 lb (77 kg)
Born April 15, 1956 (1956-04-15) (age 53)
Los Angeles, California, USA
Career information
Year(s) 1978–1990
NBA Draft 1978 / Round: 3 / Pick: 60
College New Mexico
Professional team(s)
Career stats (NBA)
Points     7,729
Assists     3,666
Steals     1,033
Stats @
Career highlights and awards
  • 5× NBA Champion (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987-88)
  • NBA Defensive Player of the Year (1987)
  • 5× NBA All-Defensive First Team (1982, 1984-85, 1987-88)
  • 3× NBA All-Defensive Second Team (1980, 1983, 1986)
  • 2× WNBA Champion (As a coach)
  • 1× NBA D-League Champion (As a coach)
  • J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award (1986)

Michael Jerome Cooper (born April 15, 1956) is an American basketball coach and retired professional player. He is the head coach of the USC Women of Troy college basketball team.[1] He is a former player in the National Basketball Association (NBA) who spent his entire career with the Los Angeles Lakers,[2] and has coached in both the NBA and WNBA.[3]

Born in Los Angeles, California, he attended Pasadena City College before transferring to the University of New Mexico. He played for the New Mexico Lobos for two seasons, 1976-78, [4] and was named first team All-Western Athletic Conference. In his senior season the Lobos won the WAC title, with Cooper averaging 16.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game.

Drafted out of New Mexico by the Lakers in the third round of the 1978 NBA Draft (60th overall),[5] "Coop" became an integral part of the "Showtime" Lakers teams of the 1980s with his defensive skills. In a twelve-year career, he was named to eight NBA All Defensive Teams, including five First Teams. He won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award in 1987. He, along with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson, was a member of five Lakers championship teams in 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988.[6]

At 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m), 174 lb (77 kg), the rail-thin Cooper played shooting guard, small forward, and point guard, although his defensive assignment was usually the other team's best shooter at the 2 or 3 position. Larry Bird has said that Cooper was the best defender he faced.[7] For his career, Cooper averaged 8.9 points, 4.2 assists, 3.2 rebounds, 1.2 steals, and 0.6 blocks per game. A popular player among Lakers fans, home crowds were known to chant, "Coooooooop" whenever he controlled the ball, and the Lakers sometimes ran an alley-oop play for him that was dubbed the "Coop-a-loop." Leaving the team after the 1989-90 season, he was ranked among the club's all-time top 10 in three-point field goals (378), games played (793), total minutes played (21,784), steals (966), blocked shots (487), assists (3,451), defensive rebounds (1,860), offensive rebounds (682) and free throw percentage (.829).

He then played for the 1990-91 season in Italy for Pallacanestro Virtus Roma in the Italian Serie A, averaging 15.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.9 steals, 1.8 assists, and 0.3 blocks per game.

Following his playing career, he served as Special Assistant to Lakers' general manager Jerry West for three years before joining the Lakers' coaching staff in March 1994 under Magic Johnson, then with Del Harris from 1994-97. He became an assistant coach of the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks in 1999, and helped the team reach the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, with a record of 20-12.

He was named the Sparks' head coach in November 1999, and the Sparks' record quickly improved, as they finished 28-4 in their 2000 campaign. Cooper was named the WNBA Coach of the Year for his efforts. The Sparks followed with consecutive WNBA Championships in 2001 and 2002, but were denied a third straight WNBA title by losing to the Detroit Shock in 2003.

After the Sacramento Monarchs ended the Sparks' run in the first round of the 2004 WNBA Playoffs, Cooper took a job as an assistant coach under Jeff Bzdelik with the Denver Nuggets. After 24 games, Bzedlik was fired, and Cooper was named the Nuggets' interim head coach.[8] He remained interim head coach until George Karl was brought in to coach the team about a month later and served as a scout for the Nuggets the remainder of the season.

Cooper was the head coach for The Albuquerque Thunderbirds for two years (2006-2007). In 2007, Cooper left the Thunderbirds after coaching them to the National Basketball Association Development League Championship in 2006. Cooper has since returned to coaching in the WNBA as the head coach of the Los Angeles Sparks.

In May 2009, Cooper was named the head coach for the University of Southern California's Women of Troy Basketball Team.[1]


  1. ^ Cooper named women's basketball coach, accessed May 1, 2009
  2. ^ Michael Cooper 1978-1990, accessed July 12, 2008
  3. ^ Coach Bio, accessed July 12, 2008
  4. ^ Michael Cooper - Pasadena City, July 12, 2008
  5. ^ 1978 Draft, accessed July 12, 2008
  6. ^ Thunderbirds Head Coach accessed July 12, 2008
  7. ^ Larry Bird Chat accessed October 5, 2008
  8. ^ Nuggets off to 13-15 start, accessed July 12, 2008

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Orlando Woolridge
Los Angeles Sparks Head Coach
Succeeded by
Karleen Thompson
Preceded by
Jeff Bzdelik
Denver Nuggets head coach (interim)
Succeeded by
George Karl
Preceded by
Joe Bryant
Los Angeles Sparks Head Coach
Succeeded by


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