Morris Peterson Interview
February 11, 2009
I caught up with Morris Peterson when the Detroit Pistons hosted the New Orleans Hornets on Jan. 17, 2009. I was covering the game for the SLAM mag and I was elated to do this game in order to talk to one of my fellow Flintstones. ”Mo Pete” had his jersey retired earlier in the day at Michigan State University and he was more than happy to talk to me about it after the game when he found out that I was from Flint.
Here is what he had to say.
Eric Woodyard: First things first, you got your jersey retired today at Michigan State University which had to be big, how did that feel?
Morris Peterson: Man, that’s an unbelievable feeling to see your name and your jersey go up next to some greats. To be mentioned with Magic Johnson and Steve Smith and Mateen Cleaves is an unbelievable feeling.
EW: I know Mateen got his number retired before you, being the type of person he is, did he ever tease you about it?
MP: Naw, he called me and was like, ‘Welcome to the club, you’re officially a boss now.’ That’s what he told me so we laughed about it and talked about his night and he just said it’s going to be a special night for me and it was. I had a lot of people in attendance, a lot of family and friends, and it was just an unbelievable day for me.
EW: Coming back home was it a lot of people bugging you for tickets?
MP: Yeah. My phone rings a lot when I come back home, especially that week before I come. A lot of people know I’m coming back so, yeah, they do. I had about 25 tickets today to get.
EW: Back to Mateen, I know he’s great and Chris Paul is great. Who is the best point guard that you’ve ever played with?
MP: I got to say Mo Cleaves. I think when we played together and what he brought to the table, he brought that toughness and I see a lot of that in Chris Paul. [Paul] fell out of the sky and into this team and it’s unbelievable watching him play and watching him grow. I think he’s going to be a Hall of Famer one day.
EW: Besides the championship, what was your favorite memory at MSU with Mateen?
MP: There’s one day that really sticks out in my mind. You know, a lot of times when you’re trying to reach a goal and you’ve got two competitors like him and I…We had such great respect, if I felt like I should’ve got the ball on a play and I wanted to say something to him then he’s going to say something to me. Well, one day we were playing, I can’t remember who we were playing. I was wolfing him and I said, ‘I was open man, throw me the ball.’ He was like, ‘Alright, I’m going to throw you the ball, but you better do something with it.’ Then the next time down, he threw me a lob and I caught it backwards and I was like, ‘Man, that’s what I’m talking about,’ and he’s like ‘Well, catch it then.’ So we kind of went at it but it was all out of just the love of the game, and I think that’s what it’s all about.
EW: Obviously, this organization has roots with Flint with Glen Rice being a former Hornet. Do you ever confide in him?
MP: You know what, Glen is a great friend. Every time I see him, he shows me love, he always gives me pointers. It’s been a couple times early in my career where I might have had a bad game and I saw him and the next time we were playing he was like, ‘Don’t lose your confidence, keep it going.’ The best advice he gave me was: ‘Any time you miss a shot, just always think you’re going to hit the next one and keep it moving.’
EW: So with all of the talent in Flint, who was your toughest opponent?
MP: My toughest opponent I ever played against? Man, we have so many great guys to come out of Flint but I would have to say Cory Hightower because we’re the same size and the same kind of body type. He was a lefty, so people often compared us to each other. But one of the guys who I think could’ve really made an impact in the college level and in the NBA level was Jody Allen. He was cold! Jody was ahead of the game even back then and he did some unbelievable things with the basketball, and I just wish he could’ve had a chance to get to this level. He would have been something to watch.
*you can view the game notes at slamonline.com at this link: http://slamonline.com/online/nba/2009/01/game-notes-hornets-at-pistons/