Sparks Hire NBA Veteran Larry Smith as Assistant Coach

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA hired NBA veteran Larry Smith as an assistant coach, it was announced today.

Earning the nickname “Mr. Mean” as a player because of his tenacious rebounding style, Smith brings to the Sparks more than two decades of experience in the NBA and Development League as a player and coach.

“What Larry will bring to the coaching staff is knowledge of the game from a big man’s point of view,” said head coach Michael Cooper. “For the team, `Mr. Mean’ will bring toughness to the big people.”

“It is an honor to have the opportunity to be a part of such a tremendous organization and to reunite with one of the most talented and respected coaches in the league,” Smith said. “I am excited about helping to shape the team and look forward to having a successful season.”

Smith served as head coach of the Anaheim Arsenal and assistant coach for the Austin Toros during the 2006-07 NBA D-League season.

During Smith’s 14 years of coaching, he has been involved in title seasons at both the NBA and NBA D-League levels. He was Cooper’s assistant coach in Albuquerque when the Thunderbirds won the 2005-06 D-League championship. He also spent 10 seasons as an assistant coach with the Houston Rockets, a period that included back-to-back titles in 1993-94 and 1994-95. His assistant coaching career also includes one season each with the Atlanta Hawks and Los Angeles Lakers under Rudy Tomjanovich.

Smith enjoyed a 13-year NBA playing career that included nine seasons with Golden State (1980-89), three in Houston (1989-92), and one with San Antonio (1992-93). As a second-round draft pick in 1980, he earned All-Rookie team honors. He went on to average 9.2 rebounds and 6.7 points per game (.531 FG%) in his career.

A collegiate star at Alcorn State, Smith led all Division I players in rebounding as a senior with a 15.1 average and also averaged 20.1 points per game. Smith was the Southwest Athletic Conference’s Player and Athlete of the Year in his final two seasons, as ASU went 56-3 and 24-0 in the conference. He scored 1,852 points (16.7 ppg) and pulled down 1,234 rebounds (11.1 rpg) in his four years.

Born in Rolling Fork, Miss., Smith, who turns 50 Jan. 18, has an MBA from Alcorn State. He and his wife, Belinda, have three children: Larry, Jr., Tiffany and Torri. Smith’s grandmother, Zora, also resides with the family.

For Sparks’ season ticket information, call 1-877-44-SPARKS.