Michael Cooper is a beloved former Laker who has won five NBA championships. Now he is a coach at Culver City High, where Buena hosts the Southern California Regional Division III Boys’ Basketball Championship on Tuesdays.
Culver City have never been this far in the state playoffs.
Cooper has coached professionally for the WNBA Sparks and Dream, and previously coached at the high school level, but he’s impressing at Culver City.
“We are so lucky to have him,” said athletic director Tom Salter. ‘He’s so energetic. He leads meetings at school.’
Cooper missed two playoff games in his second season as head coach due to a long-term commitment to the Lakers for a trip to Germany. Culver City won some close games to reach the final.
“It’s our defense that works,” Cooper said of the late stoppages.
Sophomore Singleton brothers Braylon and Myles, who are also top football players, lead Culver City, along with 6-foot-5 senior Connor Scales.
Culver City (19-12) played a competitive nonleague schedule that resulted in losses to Bishop Montgomery, Windward, Mira Costa, Birmingham, Crossroads and Beverly Hills, among others.
“We caught our blows and punches early and it’s paying off now,” said Cooper.
If Culver City moves on to Sacramento to play for a state title at Golden 1 Center, Cooper could be hailed as a celebrity by those who remember his NBA days.