Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced a total of 14 candidates for the 2021 election on March 9. Among those selected, PCC alumnus and former Los Angeles Lakers superstar Michael Cooper, better known as “Coop”, was among them. 

“It’s such a great honor. You know, when you play this game, you play the game for the love of it, for the camaraderie of a team sport, and to win championships. So to be singled out and looked at as an individual, you know, I’m very, very humbled and very pleased and blessed, ”  Micheal Cooper said in an interview with CBS Los Angeles. 

Micheal Cooper is known for his long trajectory in basketball, as a tough defender, and as head coach. In fact, Larry Bird, three-time champion and three-time MVP, once said that Cooper was the best defender he ever faced. The 6’5 basketball player was also known for his slender size and high knee socks. 

The Laker legend was born and raised in Pasadena, where he attended Pasadena High School and Pasadena City College. At PCC, he played for two seasons from 1974 to 1976. He finished as No. 7 on PCC’s all-time scoring list with 1,070 points. In 2001, he was inducted into the PCC’s Sports Hall of Fame and then CCCAA Sports Hall of Fame in 2010.

After PCC, Cooper transcended at the University of New Mexico, where he was named a USBWA First Team All-American. In the NBA Draft of 1978, he was selected by the Lakers as the 60th pick in the third round. He played in the NBA for 12 years, winning five championships with the showtime Lakers that showcased Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and James Worthy. In 1991 he played one season for Virtus Roma, where he received the Italian All-Star Game MVP.  

“If anybody deserves to be in the NBA Hall of Fame it’s definitely Michael Cooper who had a 12-year playing career, was Defensive Player of the Year in 1987, and was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team five times, and eight All-Defensive Teams overall,” Magic Johnson tweeted.

Michael Cooper

Cooper made the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team honors five times and was the league’s Defensive Player of the Year in 1987. As a defender, he made a total of 1033 steals throughout his career. He was an indispensable key player without all the attention that the superstars were getting. Laker fans were known to chant “Cooooooop” whenever he made a dynamic play. It was his discrete – almost invisible hard work ethic that made the superstar shine. In addition, he would always do that with a smile that made his performances look so effortless. 

“This has been a long time coming…Having @Lakers only Defensive Player of the Year in the Hall of Fame is a no brainer -Congrats @ShowtimeCooper,” Kareem Abdul-Jabbar tweeted                

Besides playing the game, Cooper has also coached. Cooper’s dedication to the sport is unmatched since he has coached in various levels.  He has coached the LA Sparks, Albuquerque Thunderbirds, USC Women’s basketball team and the Atlanta Dream.He was also an assistant with the Lakers. 

According to PCCs Sports Information Specialist, Robert Lewis, Cooper would become the second PCC student-athlete to play for, and be inducted into a professional sports hall of fame, after another Pasadena native, Jackie Robinson.

The 2021 inductees will be announced on May 16.

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