Former Los Angeles Lakers star guard Michael Cooper has been diagnosed with tongue cancer, the LA Times reported Tuesday.
Cooper was an integral part of the showtime Lakers era, his performances alongside the likes of Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabaar helping the Los Angeles franchise to five NBA titles in eight seasons.
The now 58-year-old also spent time coaching in the NBA, spending one season in charge of the Denver Nuggets between 2004-2005. More recently he has been head coach of WNBA franchise the Atlanta Dream.
Fortunately for Cooper, his family, and everyone involved in seems like an early diagnosis of the cancer will allow him to make a full recovery in time:
"I know I'm in good hands," Cooper explained in a statement released by the WNBA franchise.
"I'm fortunate that my condition was diagnosed early."
As is to be expected in this type of situation Cooper has been given a leave of absence from his role with the Dream, with his assistant Karleen Thompson set to fill in whilst Cooper undergoes surgery at Emory University, and undergoes rehabilitation:
"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," continued Cooper in the same release.
The Los Angeles Lakers were a near unstoppable force during the 1980s and Michael Cooper was a key man on the roster as the Showtime era was in full swing.
As well as the five NBA Championship rings in his possession, Cooper was named NBA Defensive player of the year in 1987 as well as making the All-Defensive First Team on five occasions between 1982-1988.
Lakers family support
The biggest name of that historic Lakers team, Magic Johnson, was quick to voice his support for Cooper when he heard of the latter's health issues:
"I want to wish the best of luck and a speedy recovery to my former "Showtime" teammate Michael Cooper!," wrote Johnson on his official Twitter account.
Kareem Abdul-Jabaar was another to add his support, with the NBA's all-time leading scorer stating that he was there for Cooper should he be needed.