On the heels of leading the East team to a 125-124 win in the 2014 WNBA All-Star Game, Atlanta Dream head coach Michael Cooper announced on Monday that he has been diagnosed with tongue cancer.
Cooper spoke about his cancer, per WNBA.com:
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. 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.
As Cooper referenced in his announcement, assistant coach Karleen Thompson will take over head coaching duties in Cooper's absence.
The report also notes that Cooper will undergo a surgical procedure later this week in Atlanta. Recovery is anticipated to take two weeks.
Following the announcement, the WNBA passed along its thoughts on the situation:
Cooper has led the Dream to a 15-6 record thus far in his first season with the franchise. He also played an important part in leading the East to a win in the All-Star Game on Saturday.
The former Los Angeles Lakers guard won five NBA championships and was a five-time NBA All-Defensive First Team player. He also won WNBA Coach of the Year in 2000 with the Los Angeles Sparks at the beginning of his tenure.
The Dream, currently in first place in the Eastern Conference, have some challenging opponents lying ahead, including the Minnesota Lynx, who are on a four-game winning streak.
Luckily, Cooper is expected to make a full recovery and should be back for the Dream later this season. As Atlanta looks to make the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season, Cooper's health will play a part in how far the team goes if it gets there.
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