When the Wolves needed a radio analyst and Saunders put in a good word for Petersen, a second career was born. He has bounced between radio and TV broadcasts since then, currently serving as a television analyst.
His Lynx ties began when Petersen and then-Lynx coach Don Zierden were coaching their sons’ AAU team. They hit it off, and Zierden hired Petersen as a Lynx assistant. When Reeve was hired as head coach in 2010, she retained Petersen.
Over the past few years, Petersen has become a film room enthusiast, his basketball knowledge deepening.
“How he’s evolved, where he was in year one and where he is now? A lot of growth,” Reeve said.
“I knew the game as a player,” Petersen said. “But it’s like asking a person what it’s like to have a kid vs. being in the delivery room having a kid. … I just know way more about the game as a coach.”
There is a lot of crossover. As a coach he uses Synergy Sports, a technology company providing select video breakdowns of primarily pro basketball players and teams, to watch film on opponents. He also uses it to prep for broadcasts.
“If we’re playing the Spurs, I can go into Synergy and pull six or seven to 10 San Antonio clips of something Tony Parker does, what is unique to him, what makes him good,” Petersen said.
Then he can give his producer the exact clips Petersen wants to use in his pregame show. During the game, his coaching experience allows Petersen to explain to viewers what teams are trying to do, why something is or is not working.
It goes both ways. “I’ll see how the Spurs get Parker shots and Cheryl will say, “I like that for [Lindsay] Whalen,” Petersen said.
The Lynx have used things they saw in the Phoenix Suns’ pick-and-roll game when Steve Nash was there.
As his knowledge has grown, Petersen’s broadcasts have become more informed — and more frank.
“It wasn’t until I stopped caring what people think that I became honest,” Petersen said.
Petersen was critical of former vice president of basketball operations David Kahn’s drafts and personnel decisions. He was, at times, hard on former coach Kurt Rambis and has consistently been critical when he sees a lack of effort.
Petersen credits Timberwolves senior vice president Ted Johnson for allowing him to be honest.
“A lot of teams would never allow me to criticize a player or a coach,” Petersen said. “Ted has never said, ‘You can’t say this.’ That’s really unique.”
In 15 years, only one coach and one player have ever confronted him about a broadcast. Former Wolves coach Dwane Casey once approached Petersen, asking him to end his on-air campaign to play Eddie Griffin more because of personal problems he was going through. The player who was upset? Kevin Garnett.
“We had a [shouting] match on the tarmac in Atlanta about something he said I’d said,” Petersen said. “But I hadn’t, so it was a misunderstanding.”