MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Jim Petersen grew up in St. Louis Park, and grew into a 6-foot-11-inch frame.
Basketball was an obvious calling, and it still is because he loves this game — and the game seems to love him back.
The NBA dream started for Petersen when he played for the Minnesota Gophers. A solid senior season in 1984 set him up.
He took his game to Houston, where he was not only building a career, but was deepening his love for the game.
But basketball is still in his life all the time. Peterson is the assistant coach for the Minnesota Lynx, and an analyst for the Timberwolves.
“I love Jim’s connection to the NBA,” Lynx Coach Cheryl Reeve said. “He’s just a junkie when it comes to different type of actions that the teams are running, and full of ideas. He’s learned me really, really well.”
This coaching thing started when he got out of the NBA, in a way you would not expect.
“My first coaching job was when I first retired from the NBA. I was living in San Diego, I coached seventh-grade girls and we won the city championship,” Peterson said. “I was hooked.”
The players on the Lynx are a bit older, but the concepts are the same. Petersen’s comfort zone is being around this game; teaching it, analyzing it, enjoying it.
“Jim enjoys what he does,” Lynx forward Maya Moore said. “He lives life very passionately, and that means having fun, too. So he’s always somebody who wants to be involved in, you know, what’s going on, and if there’s something to laugh at he wants to be a part of it.”
Part of the reason he loves it in Minnesota is because he loves winning. Two WNBA titles and a host of Olympians make it that way.
“The fact that I’ve been able to go to the White House twice on the Lynx side, I mean, the success that we’ve had, winning championships … and I’m Minnesota born, Minnesota bred, so I know the heartbreak of being a Minnesota sports fan,” Peterson said.
He seems in constant thought of what could make the people around him better. And the people around him are better than most.
“It’s all good, you know. I mean, when you have great players the whole process is fun,” he said. “Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen, Rebekkah Brunson – when you come in and you got your best players working so hard.”
His presence is about preparation, positivity and experience – and it rubs off.
“What I’ve appreciated about Jim from day one and why that I wanted him on our staff is because he really embraces the WNBA players as equals to what he sees in the NBA,” Reeve said.
The kid who grew to be a Gopher grew to be a man in the NBA. He gets to break down the Wolves, and work with one of the WNBA’s best.
Life has been good — basketball good.
“When you win a championship with the WNBA, I just wouldn’t have thought, you know, 10 years ago that I’d be in this situation right now,” Peterson said. “When you’re around greatness, and trust me, being around Seimone, Maya, Lindsay and Brunson, they are great. And then what we do as a staff together is great. It’s really an unbelievable situation.”
The Lynx face the Washington Mystics in their season opener on Wednesday, May 27. Their home opener is set for Friday, June 5 against the Tulsa Shock.