With Lynx and Wolves, Jim Petersen sees basketball inside and out

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 18, 2013 - 6:55 AM

Jim Petersen is a Lynx coach who analyzes Wolves games. Or maybe that should be turned around. Each of his jobs makes him better at the other.

view larger photos

  

 

Twice a year, for about 10 days each time, Jim Petersen will come out of the film room, leave the bench and step away from the microphone.

Maybe even rest.

For half the year Petersen, the former NBA post player, is a Lynx assistant coach, working with the team’s frontcourt. His summers used to be spent golfing with stepson Sanjay Lumpkin. Now they are spent in dark film rooms and with the Lynx, adding some in-game cool to counterbalance fiery head coach Cheryl Reeve.

The other half of the year, Petersen slides over a few chairs. Days after the WNBA playoffs end, Petersen will start his 16th season broadcasting Timberwolves games.

Petersen, who is woven into Minnesota’s basketball fabric, does this by choice. The son of a truck driver and a nurse, he grew up in St. Louis Park knowing the value of work. He had a heart attack in November of 2010 but was back behind the microphone three days later.

Besides, is it really work when you love every minute?

“They feed each other,” Petersen said of his two lives, one looking at the game from the inside, the other from the outside. “The analyst feeds the coach, the coach feeds the analyst, and it’s an unbelievably fulfilling situation.”

A basketball life

For Petersen, 51, it’s a continuation of a basketball life. He played in three state tournaments at St. Louis Park High. He was the state’s first McDonald’s All-America selection. In four years at the University of Minnesota, Petersen helped win the Gophers’ last official Big Ten Conference championship in 1982. During his eight-year NBA career with the Rockets, Kings and Warriors from 1984 to ’92, Petersen reached the NBA Finals in 1986 while backing up Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson in Houston.

“I’ve been able to do a lot of things,” Petersen said. “I’ve been able to reach a lot of my goals.”

When he looks back, Petersen sometimes wishes he’d been more confident. But with age that confidence — and more accomplishment — has come. He earned a WNBA championship ring in 2011. His work as a coach has made him a more incisive analyst. But his Minnesota roots have prevented him from ever losing his perspective.

“He doesn’t think he’s anything special,” said Bob Stein, Petersen’s friend and former agent. “That’s what makes him special.”

But it took a while to get here. Sore knees forced Petersen from the NBA in 1992. He moved to the Bay Area, determined to use a yoga-based discipline to get healthy while working with the NBA Players Association. Then to San Diego, to return to school, where a friend in the NBAPA convinced Petersen to coach her daughter’s sixth-grade team.

“I took this ragtag group of girls from this private school in La Jolla and we ended up winning the city championship,” Petersen said. “I realized it was so much fun to mold this group of girls, make them feel really great about themselves. I felt as good about that as I did about winning the Western Conference championship as a player.”

Making connections

As so often happens, a career path was formed by connections and circumstances.

Looking for a dentist, Petersen found Dr. Michael Sudit, whose son’s youth basketball team — Stein’s nephew was on that team, too — was looking for a coach. Arm-twisting ensued, and Petersen took the job. Then-Wolves coach Flip Saunders and assistant Randy Wittman had sons in the league.

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.”

Crossover appeal

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.”

His analyst/coach life fits together nicely, but if his two half-year jobs ever yield to one year-round opportunity — not that he is actively looking for such a change — Petersen would like it to be in Minnesota.

“This is where I’m from,” he said. “I’ve been around. The weather in California is great, the people in Texas are phenomenal and New York is fun. But Minneapolis is such a great city to live in. Whenever I would leave Minneapolis and play somewhere else, it was always great to come home.”









 

  • related content

  • Photo gallery: Jim Petersen: Lynx coach, Wolves TV analyst

    Tuesday September 17, 2013

    Jim Petersen is a Lynx coach who analyzes Wolves games.

  • Chart: Jim Petersen at a glance

    Tuesday September 17, 2013

    • Former St. Louis Park High standout basketball player who took the Orioles to three state tournaments.• Originally signed to play at...

  • Moore wins Western Conference player of the month

    Tuesday September 17, 2013

    Award is Moore's second straight; she also won three player of the week awards this season

  • WNBA playoff schedule

    Tuesday September 24, 2013

  • Lynx return to practice to prepare for playoff opener

    Tuesday September 17, 2013

    The team's mood is upbeat as it gets ready for Seattle

  • Assistant coach Jim Petersen talked to Lynx players during a timeout in a recent game. Basketball has always been a part of his life, from St. Louis Park to the Gophers to eight years in the NBA.

  • Lynx assistant coach Jim Petersen often acts as a calm counterpart to the fiery personality of Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve.

  • LYNX 73, Seattle 60

    Up next: at Los Angeles • 9:30 p.m. Thursday • TV: NBATV (106.1-FM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - LP: B. Wilson 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Grimm 8
Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Shields 2
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 3 FINAL
Oakland - LP: D. Otero 0
Toronto - WP: M. Stroman 6 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: C. Capuano 3
Arizona - LP: T. Cahill 1 FINAL
Colorado - WP: E. Butler 5
Boston - LP: R. De La Rosa 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: C. Tillman 7
Milwaukee 0 Top 9th Inning
Pittsburgh 0
Washington - WP: J. Zimmermann 3 FINAL
Miami - LP: J. Cosart 2
NY Mets - WP: J. Niese 4 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: M. Minor 2
Chicago WSox 1 Top 9th Inning
Tampa Bay 3
Cleveland 7 Bottom 6th Inning
Minnesota 2
Seattle - LP: C. Young 1 FINAL
Houston - WP: D. Keuchel 10
Cincinnati - LP: M. Leake 4 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: J. Motte 8
San Francisco 0 Top 6th Inning
San Diego 1
Texas 0 Top 5th Inning
LA Angels 3
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(13) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(11) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(21) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
(18) Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Appalachian St 14 4th Qtr 4:18
Southern Miss 14
Miss State 34 4th Qtr 8:25
(8) LSU 16
Utah State 14 4th Qtr 4:58
Arkansas State 14
Miami-Ohio 24 4th Qtr 8:16
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 4th Qtr 2:21
Ohio U 29
Ball State 3 1st Qtr 4:20
Toledo 13
(14) So Carolina 27 3rd Qtr 0:23
Vanderbilt 24
(4) Oklahoma 31 3rd Qtr 8:20
West Virginia 24
Ga Southern 21 4th Qtr 8:21
South Alabama 6
UNLV 7 3rd Qtr 11:39
Houston 27
Miami-Florida 21 3rd Qtr 5:09
(24) Nebraska 24
New Mexico 21 3rd Qtr 11:08
New Mexico St 21
(22) Clemson 10 3rd Qtr 15:00
(1) Florida State 3
California 7 1st Qtr 12:16
Arizona 0
Louisiana 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(23) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Vancouver FC 0 FINAL
Portland 3
Houston 0 FINAL
Philadelphia 0
New England 0 FINAL
Columbus 1
San Jose 0 FINAL
Montreal 2
Seattle 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 4
D.C. 3 2nd Half 20:00
Chicago 2
FC Dallas 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 16 1:27
Hamilton 25
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close