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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Joe Bryant returns to L.A. Sparks

LOS ANGELES (AP) Joe "Jellybean" Bryant is returning to the Los Angeles Sparks as an assistant coach.

The father of Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant was head coach of the Sparks from late 2005 through the 2006 season. Also joining the team's staff is Sandy Brondello. She and Bryant will assist second-year coach Jennifer Gillom.

"I'm happy to be back with the L.A. Sparks this summer," Bryant told The Japan Times on Saturday. "I enjoy coaching women's basketball. The WNBA is in its 15th season and I'm happy to be a part of it."

He coached the bj-league's Tokyo Apache from 2005-09, guiding the team to a pair of championship runnerup finishes. This season, Bryant was head coach of the cash-strapped Raru Kamuy Hokkaido, a JBL club which was stripped of its ownership group and is now run by a Japan Basketball Association proxy group. But he was fired in January as the team scraped together a shoe-string budget for the final months of the season.

Bryant started with the Sparks as an assistant and was promoted to head coach late in the 2005 season, guiding the team to a playoff appearance. In 2006, he led the team to a 25-9 record and the Western Conference finals.

Brondello was head coach of San Antonio's WNBA team last season.

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