Michael Cooper as Head Coach.
College - New Mexico '78
The Sparks, under Head Coach Michael Cooper, have achieved a tremendous amount of success over the past 5 years. Entering his fifth campaign as a WNBA head coach with the Sparks, Cooper has guided the Sparks to its fifth straight WNBA playoff appearance, three straight WNBA Western Conference titles and two WNBA World Championship titles. In his third year as head coach, Cooper led the Sparks to the leagues best road record (13-3) and best overall regular season record (25-7) for the third consecutive season. The season was topped off with the Sparks going undefeated in the 2002 playoffs and wining their second WNBA World Championship. On May 30, 2003, Cooper had his 100th career win with the Sparks against the Seattle Storm.
Cooper, who earned the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 1987 and a five-time All Defensive First Team member, has stressed the idea that defense wins championships. He was regarded as a defensive genius during his 11-year NBA career and has brought what he has learned to the Sparks.
Cooper joined the Sparks in 1999, as an assistant coach, and was an integral part of guiding the Sparks to a 20-12 record and the franchise’s first-ever playoff berth. His hard work and intensity was rewarded by the Sparks when he was named Head Coach in November of 1999. In his first year as head coach, Cooper earned the 2000 WNBA Coach of the Year Award and led the Sparks to their best record in franchise history (28-4).
Cooper began his coaching career in March 1994 serving as a Lakers assistant coach under Head Coach Ervin “Magic” Johnson and later with Head Coach Del Harris in 1994-97. During this time the Lakers ranked among the NBA leaders in steals and blocked shots which established a Los Angles record low in limiting opponents to only 98.5 ppg in the 1995-96 campaign.
Prior to his coaching stint with the Lakers, Cooper served as Special Assistant to General Manager Jerry West for almost three years. He scouted out college and Continental Basketball Association players as well as performed other related duties.
As one of the most popular Lakers in franchise history, the Los Angeles native played a vital role in capturing five championships with the Lakers (1980, ’82, ’85, ’87, and ’88). He was a third-round draft choice (60th Overall) by the Lakers in the 1978 NBA Draft after graduating from New Mexico.
Cooper retired, after the 1989-90 season, 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).
Off the court, Cooper is a firm believer in community service and spent a great deal of the off-season donating countless hours to a variety of charitable organizations. Cooper is also an analyst for Fox Sports Net, ABC’s Sports Zone and KVDM Big West Basketball while still managing to continue his many engagements as a public speaker.