College - New Mexico
Michael Cooper is in his second tenure as Head Coach and his seventh season with the organization. After two seasons coaching in the NBA and NBA Development League, he returned for his second stint with the team in 2007 finishing 10-24 (.294). His first stint as Sparks head coach spanned the 2000-2004 seasons. After originally joining the Sparks as an assistant coach in 1999, Cooper was then named head coach in November of that year. In his first season as head coach, he earned the 2000 WNBA Coach of the Year Award after leading the Sparks to their best record in franchise history (28-4). In more than four seasons, Cooper guided the Sparks to a 116-31 (.789) regular season record, four playoff appearances and three finals appearances. Under his direction, the Sparks became WNBA Champions in 2001 and 2002.
Following his 12 year 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. Cooper spent the 2004-05 NBA season as an assistant coach for the Denver Nuggets, including a stint as interim head coach. In 2005, he took over the basketball operations responsibilities for the NBA D-League’s Albuquerque Thunderbirds. In his first season, the Thunderbirds took home the NBA D-League championship.
Drafted out of New Mexico by the Los Angeles Lakers in the third round (60th overall), Cooper became an integral part of the “Showtime” Lakers teams of the 1980s with his defensive prowess. In his twelve year playing career with the Lakers (the only team he ever played for in the NBA), he earned eight NBA All Defensive Team selections – including five First Team honors – and was named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year in 1987. Cooper was a member of five NBA Championship teams (1980, ’82, ’85, ’87, and ’88). Retiring after the 1989-90 season, he was ranked among the club’s career top 10 in three-point field goals (428), games played (873), minutes played (23,635), steals (1,033), blocked shots (523), assists (3,666), defensive rebounds (2,028), offensive rebounds (741) and free throw percentage (.833).
Cooper played two seasons with the University of New Mexico Lobos (1976-78) and was selected to the Lobo Hall of Honor in 1992. He was named to the first team All-Western Athletic Conference and led the Lobos to the conference title as a senior, averaging 16.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game. In addition to being a success on the court, Cooper was recognized for his community efforts off the court. During the 1985-86 seasons, Cooper, along with New York’s Rory Sparrow, was selected by the Pro Basketball Writer’s Association as the recipients of the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award.
Cooper was honored with the Commitment to Excellence Award during the 2007 Los Angeles Sports Fans Choice Awards. Cooper has four children, Michael II 27, Simone 24, Miles 18, and Nils 3.