When it comes to college and pro success among recent Big Ten basketball players, it doesn’t get much better than Morris Peterson. Not only did the ex-Michigan State star claim Big Ten Player of the Year and All-America honors en route to the Spartans’ 2000 NCAA title, the Big Ten’s last crown, he enjoyed a successful 11-year NBA career.
His playing day behind him, Peterson runs his own clothing company, World Artist Refuge, and manages an entertainment artist touring company, World Artist Transport. He also does philanthropic work in Flint, Mich., and New Orleans, and is in the process of reestablishing his foundation, the Morris Peterson Jr. Foundation, which creates better opportunities for youth in around the Flint area.
Read our full email Q&A with Peterson below.
BTN.com: I’ve got to ask this: How were you so accepting of coming off the bench for so much of your college career?
Morris Peterson: I actually started my freshman year and coach talked to me my sophomore season about being a spark for the team coming off the bench. I wanted to do what was best for the team, so I agreed to do that.
BTN.com: Other than the NCAA title game and the ensuing celebration, what was the best part of the memorable 1999-2000 season?
MP: Playing in NC in the Smith Center. That environment was so hostile and we got the win.
BTN.com: Have you or any of your old Spartan teammates ever busted out Mateen’s iconic celebration dance just for fun or to give him a hard time?
MP: Yes…all the time. I’m laughing right now thinking about it.
BTN.com: As a member of the last Big Ten team to win it all, what do you think it’s going to take for the Big Ten to break its national title drought?
MP: We had a saying…”Never relax.” That was our slogan. The team needs to know they have to play hard for the full 40 minutes. They can’t relax at all.
BTN.com: Do you like the Spartans’ chances this year?
MP: Yes, I like their chances. Everyone needs to be healthy by the end of the Big Ten season.
BTN.com: Which “Flintstone” do you keep in touch with the most nowadays?
MP: All of them. We’re family. That’s what made it so special. We grew up together and to be able accomplish that was awesome.
BTN.com: You played 11 seasons in the NBA. How did Coach Izzo and teammates like Mateen Cleaves help put you on that path?
MP: What Izzo did for me was prepare me to be a professional. He laid the foundation that I needed to play in the NBA. Mateen allowed me to see what a great point guard was about. I was able to develop a chemistry with other point guards I played with.
BTN.com: Speaking of Izzo, tell me your funniest story about him that not everyone would know.
MP: Have you ever seen Coach in tights? We used to laugh at the tights he’d wear when he would run with us for conditioning in the morning.
BTN.com: When you see your No. 42 in the rafters at the Breslin Center, what feelings do you get?
MP: A lot of emotions. To be part of the Spartan family…Spartan tradition. To have experienced everything at MSU is great. Looking at that instantly brings back memories of everything I went through and was able to accomplish. To be mentioned in the same company as Magic Johnson, Greg Kelser, Mateen Cleaves, Jumping Johnny Green, Steve Smith, Shawn Respert, Jay Vincent and Coach Heathcote, I’m extremely blessed.
BTN.com: OK, you’re having a dinner party for four, and anyone from your basketball career can be invited. Who are the three people getting an invite?
MP: It would be a Flintstone party. Mateen, Charlie (Bell) and Antonio (Smith). However, the Godfather, Coach Izzo, wouldn’t need an invitation. He can just show up.
BTN.com: Last question is a two-parter: Which Big Ten coach and rival player did you most enjoy going up against, and why?
MP: I loved playing against Bobby Knight. A game that sticks out to me happened my senior year at State. We were down 3. Coach drew up a play for me. I hit a 3 to send us into overtime. Indiana played us tough in OT, but we pulled it out. After the game, I was walking off the court and someone grabbed my arm. I looked back and it was Coach Knight. With a scowl on his face, he told me, “Great game.” The Big Ten had some players then – Michael Redd, Scoonie Penn and A.J. Guyton, to name a few. Every team in the Big Ten had great players, so every night was a battle.
|About Brent Yarina||BTN.com senior editor Brent Yarina covers football and men’s basketball for BTN.com. He writes the popular uniform feature “Clothes Call,” which also focuses on the latest cosmetic changes across Big Ten arenas and stadiums. Read all of his work here. You can subscribe to Yarina’s RSS feed and follow him on Twitter @BTNBrentYarina.|