Former Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Michael “Coop” Cooper (pictured) has reportedly been diagnosed with early stage tongue cancer and will take a leave of absence from his current role as coach to the Atlanta Dream WNBA team, according to The Seattle Times.
The man who built a rep as a tough defender winning five championships with the Lakers throughout the eighties is reportedly scheduled for surgery this week at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University and is expected to make a full recovery.
The 58-year-old coach is in his first season with the female B-ball organization and released a statement regarding his diagnosis, “I’m fortunate that my condition was diagnosed early, and this episode illustrates the importance of screening and early detection. I know the team will be in good hands with Coach Karleen Thompson at the helm during my absence, and I look forward to returning to the court soon.”
Cooper, who was a popular player as a Laker and a real court standout, was quickly recognized by his trademark knee-high socks and also won WNBA Coach of the Year in 2000 with the Los Angeles Sparks at the beginning of his tenure.
Reportedly, Cooper’s recovery will take about two weeks if all goes as expected.