After firing Jennifer Gillom as head coach today, the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA have hired Joe “Jellybean” Bryant to take her place. Joe Bryant is better known as “Kobe’s Dad” in most sports circles.
Bryant was an assistant coach with the Sparks before being named the head coach back in 2005, taking over in mid-season for former teammate Henry Bibby. He coached the Sparks to two playoff appearances, including leading the team to a 25-9 record and a berth in the Western Conference Finals in 2006. But in April 2007, he was replaced by Michael Cooper who had previously been the Sparks’ head coach from 1999-2004.
Bryant spent the 2007-08 season coaching the Tokyo Apache in Japan’s professional basketball league. In March he was hired by the Sparks as an assistant to Gillom, and now replaces her.
Bryant had this to say about the now-departed Gillom:
“I enjoyed working with Jennifer, and it’s never easy to replace your friend and respected colleague. What’s most important is the personnel on the floor hasn’t change; we have the right mix of players to be a successful WNBA ballclub.”
Those who know Jellybean Bryant rave about what a great guy he is, so we’re sure this is an excellent move for the Sparks.
The team is currently 4-6 and in fifth place in the Western Conferece. The Sparks are in the middle of a five-game losing streak and are also without superstar Candace Parker, who will miss six weeks with a knee injury.
Bryant was the No. 14 overall pick in the 1975 NBA Draft, and played professionally for 16 years. Most notably he was a member of the Philadelphia 76ers, San Diego Clippers and Houston Rockets before taking his talents overseas, where he played seven seasons in Italy.