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Kobe’s father now head coach of WNBA’s Sparks

Jul 11, 2011, 10:05 AM EDT

Joe Bryant AP

Joe “Jellybean” Bryant — a former NBA player and father of Kobe Bryant — has been promoted to head coach of the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks.

Jennifer Gillom was let go over the weekend from the head spot. The Sparks have lost their last five games in a row (4-6 overall) and they have lost star Candice Parker to a knee injury. So, just like in the NBA, when a team struggles due to injuries it’s time to fire the coach. The Sparks were 13-21 last year Gillom, when injuries also decimated the roster.

The senior Bryant has been the Sparks coach before, in 2005 and 2006 and they made the playoffs both times and went to the Western Conference Finals in 2006. Then he was canned so Lakers legend Michael Cooper could have the big seat. Bryant was brought back this season as an assistant. He has talked in the past about wanting to make the jump to being an assistant coach in the NBA, a transition some but not all WNBA coaches have made. The most famous being Bill Laimbeer, now an assistant with the Detroit Pistons and is in the running for that head coaching job.

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