College - New Mexico '78
Joined the staff of the Denver Nuggets as an assistant coah prior to the 2004-05 season. On December 28, 2004, he became the interim head coach but returned to his role as an assistant upon the hiring of George Karl on January 27, 2005. Prior to joining the Nuggets, he had a stellar head-coaching run with the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks. In four-plus seasons, Cooper guided the Sparks to a 116-31 (.789) regular season record and four playoff appearances. His teams captured back-to-back WNBA Championships in 2001 and ’02 and made the Finals three-consecutive years.
A 12-year NBA veteran, Cooper was a third-round draft choice (60th Overall) by the Lakers in the 1978 NBA Draft after graduating from New Mexico. He earned eight NBA All Defensive Team selections – including five First Team honors – and was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 1987. He spent his entire career with the Los Angeles Lakers and 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 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).
After originally joining the Sparks as an assistant coach in 1999, Cooper was named head coach in November of that same year. In his first year 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).
Cooper began his coaching career in March 1994, serving as an assistant coach with the Lakers under Magic Johnson and later with Del Harris from 1994-97. Prior to his coaching stint with the Lakers, Cooper served as Special Assistant to General Manager Jerry West for nearly three years.