Ex-Laker, Dream coach Cooper diagnosed with tongue cancer

Michael CooperATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta Dream coach Michael Cooper has been diagnosed with early stage tongue cancer.

The team says Cooper is taking a temporary leave of absence and will have surgery this week in Atlanta. The Dream say a full recovery is expected.

Cooper is expected to miss about two weeks, and assistant coach Karleen Thompson will fill in. Atlanta plays at Minnesota on Tuesday.

In a statement released by the team Monday, Cooper says he is fortunate to have an early diagnosis. He says his case “illustrates the importance of screening and early detection.”

Atlanta leads the Eastern Conference with a 15-6 record. Cooper, the former Lakers guard, coached the East to a 125-124 overtime victory at the WNBA All-Star game Saturday.