PCC Great Michael Cooper Inducted Into Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame

Michael Cooper in his playing days at PCC.
Michael Cooper in his playing days at PCC.

Michael Cooper, considered the greatest men's basketball player in Pasadena City College history, was selected an inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday. Cooper is the second PCC alumnus to be so honored following late head coach Jerry Tarkanian in 2013.

The former Los Angeles Lakers' great was inducted into the PCC Sports Hall of Fame in 2001 and the State Community College 3C2A Hall of Fame in 2010. He also is a member of the University of New Mexico Hall of Honor and had his number retired by Pasadena High in January. 

At PCC from 1974-76, Cooper was an All-Metropolitan Conference selection for the Lancers before he became famous in the NBA with the "Showtime" Lakers of the 1980s. Cooper played two seasons at PCC and finished as No. 7 on the school's all-time scoring list with 1,070 points (20.2 points scoring average).

Cooper led New Mexico as an All-American guard to a Western Athletic Conference title in his senior season. He was chosen by the Lakers as the 60th overall pick in the third round of the 1978 NBA Draft. He embarked on a highly successful 12-year pro career as he played on five Lakers World Championship teams.

Eight times Cooper made the NBA's All-Defensive Team and he was the league's Defensive Player of the Year in 1987. Hall of Famer Larry Bird called Cooper the toughest player he ever faced.

Cooper, 67, became a head coach in the WNBA directing the LA Sparks to two league championships. He also was an interim head coach for the NBA's Denver Nuggets and he spent four seasons as head coach at the collegiate level with USC.

"I had the luxury of playing with some fabulous players," Cooper said in a press conference over the weekend. "And as I always tell people, I got a chance to see Magic Johnson, James Worthy come into the NBA as pretty good basketball players and slowly develop into legendary players, great players and Hall of Fame players themselves. So for me, standing at the doorstep been getting ready to go into the Hall of Fame with them is just like I said, I couldn't even fathom that a kid coming from Pasadena, California. ... It's absolutely humbling. And it's wonderful and it's honoring."

Cooper and the rest of the 2024 Naismith class will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts on Aug. 16-17.