Dream coach Cooper has tongue cancer

07/21/2014 6:46 PM

07/21/2014 6:50 PM

Atlanta, GA (SportsNetwork.com) - Atlanta Dream head coach Michael Cooper has taken a temporary leave of absence from the team after being diagnosed with early stage tongue cancer.

Cooper will have surgery this week at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University in Atlanta. It typically requires two weeks to recover from the procedure, and the team said Monday a full recovery is expected.

Assistant Karleen Thompson will fill in for Cooper.

"The doctors and staff at Emory have been tremendous, and I know I'm in good hands," Cooper said in a statement. "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 Thompson at the helm during my absence, and I look forward to returning to the court soon."

Cooper, who won five NBA titles as a player with the Los Angeles Lakers and two WNBA titles as a coach with the Los Angeles Sparks, is in his first season with Atlanta. The Dream lead the Eastern Conference with a 15-6 record.

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