Lakers legend and Cal State LA assistant men’s basketball coach Michael Cooper. (Credit: Myles Bridgewater-Jackman/Cal State LA)

Cal State LA assistant men’s basketball coach Michael Cooper, a five-time National Basketball Association champion during a legendary career with the Los Angeles Lakers, has been elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Cooper is part of a 13-member class that will be enshrined during ceremonies on Aug. 17 in Springfield, Mass. He will be joined by Chauncey Billups, Vince Carter, Walter Davis, Bo Ryan, Charles Smith, Seimone Augustus, Dick Barnett, Harley Redin, Michele Timms, Doug Collins, Herb Simon, and Jerry West, who is the first member to be inducted as both a player and a contributor.

Cooper, who was in Arizona at the Final Four on Saturday where the official announcement was made, spent his entire 12-year NBA career with the Lakers. He was an integral part of five NBA championship teams and was named to eight NBA All-Defensive teams, earning first-team honors five times, and winning Defensive Player of the Year honors in 1987.

Following his player career, Cooper made a successful move into coaching. He earned WNBA Coach of the Year honors in 2000 with the Los Angeles Sparks and led the team to back-to-back WNBA titles in 2001-02.

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He was also the head women’s coach at USC from 2009-2013 and he returned to the WNBA to coach the Atlanta Dream from 2014-17. He was also the head coach at Culver City High School before joining Cal State LA as an assistant coach in 2023.

“It’s well deserved,” Cal State LA head men’s basketball coach Jim Saia said. “I believe he’s the best defensive player who ever played the game. I’m happy for him and his family. This is an honor that’s long overdue.”

Cooper was previously a finalist for the class of 2021.

“To have his championship presence and what he brings to the table after being a part of all those championship teams was great for us.” Saia said. “He really played a big part in our program reaching new heights this past year.”

In Cooper’s first season with Cal State LA, the Golden Eagles enjoyed the best season in program history. The Golden Eagles set a new program record with 24 wins, captured their first-ever California Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament championship, earned the No. 1 seed, and hosted the NCAA Division II West Regional for the first time.