Former LA Laker diagnosed with tongue cancer, undergoes surgery

michael-cooperFormer LA Lakers guard Michael Cooper has been recently diagnosed with an early stage of tongue cancer. WNBA Atlanta Dream’s head coach, 58-year old Cooper had to leave the team, for the surgery.

Cooper received thoughts and prayers from the Lakers’ fans as well as members of the NBRPA (National Basketball Retired Players Association).

According to NBA’s official website, Cooper underwent a surgery for tongue cancer at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University in Atlanta, and that the procedure was successful. Atlanta Dream issued a statement, which said Cooper ”will be back coaching soon.”

The Dream announced that assistant Karleen Thompson will fill in while Cooper is out.

“I know the team will be in good hands with Coach Thompson at the helm during my absence, and I look forward to returning to the court soon,” Cooper said.

A statement released through the team said Cooper is optimistic about his condition and trusts those in charge.

“The doctors and staff at Emory have been tremendous, and I know I’m in good hands. I’m fortunate that my condition was diagnosed early, and this episode illustrates the importance of screening and early detection,” Cooper said prior to the surgery.

Cooper is in his first season with Atlanta, and his coaching resume is more than impressive – he coached the Los Angeles Sparks to two WNBA titles (2001 and 2002.) and won one NBA Development League championship with Albuquerque. Cooper also won the NBA Coach of the Year award in 2000.

Cooper was drafted by the Lakers in the 1978 Draft and spent his entire NBA career in Los Angeles. While playing for the Lakers, Cooper was highly regarded for his defense, being selected to eight All-Defensive Team selections as a player.

Cooper, who played in 873 career NBA games, helped the LA Lakers win 5 NBA titles (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988). He averaged career-high 11.9 ppg for the team in 1981-82.


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