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SPARKS UPDATE: `JELLYBEAN' NAMED AS COACH.

Byline: EARL WILLIAMS Staff Writer

During the offseason, Sparks president Johnny Buss overhauled his roster.

But Monday, he and general manager Penny Toler decided to go with a familiar face to head the coaching staff this season.

Joe "Jellybean" Bryant, who took over the team as interim coach after Henry Bibby and the organization parted ways shortly before the 2005 playoffs, has been named permanent coach and will guide the team when the Sparks tip off their 10th anniversary season May 21 at Seattle.

"It's just an honor and a privilege to work with the Buss family and with the Sparks," Bryant said through a press release. "I guess you can say it's my first official tenure with the Sparks as head coach.

"So this year is going to be a great opportunity. I'm looking forward to the chance to work with a great team, great people, great personalities. I'm very excited and a championship is on our mind."

Michael Abraham, a former women's head coach at Cal State Northridge who served as assistant coach at Oregon State and Long Beach State, came aboard as one of Bryant's assistants.

Bryant, a former NBA player who is currently coaching the Tokyo Apache in Japan's BJ League, posted a record of 4-1 to guide Los Angeles into the first round of the playoffs. The Sparks finished 17-17 in the regular season.

Prior to coaching the Sparks, Bryant - father of the Lakers' Kobe Bryant - served as an assistant at La Salle University and also spent two seasons coaching the Las Vegas Rattlers and the Boston Frenzy in the ABA.

In 1975, the Golden State Warriors drafted him 14th overall, and he ended up playing for the Philadelphia 76ers, San Diego Clippers and Houston Rockets over eight seasons in the NBA.

Later, he competed professionally for eight seasons in Italy.

earl.williams@presstelegram.com

(562) 499-1338
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 18, 2006
Words:312
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