Share 1-on-1: Oklahoma City's Morris Peterson
By: Jim Eichenhofer,
January 24, 2011

Prior to Mondays game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, caught up with former New Orleans shooting guard Morris Peterson. The 11-year NBA veteran, who played for the Hornets for three seasons from 2007-08 through 2009-10, was traded to Oklahoma City on 2010 draft night.

Peterson started all 76 games he appeared in during the 2007-08 season, when the Hornets finished 56-26 and captured the only division title in franchise history. The Thunder have been in the top four of the Western Conference through the first half of the schedule. What do you think is the teams primary goal for this season? Win a playoff series? Reach the Western Conference finals?
Peterson: Well, I dont think this team has scratched the surface on how good we can be. We are just trying to get better. Im pretty sure everybody in this locker rooms goal is to win a championship, but we know we still have some work to do. Right now, this team is learning how to play with a target on its back. Teams are getting up for us. Were playing hard, and not taking any teams for granted. Youre now in your 11th season in the NBA. What do you see as your role with this team? Are you the savvy vet who can share his experience with many of the young 20-somethings on this roster?
Peterson: I think so. I think thats accurate. Ive been through many different points in this league and experienced different things, from playing a lot, to not playing much. The thing I try to tell guys on this team is make sure you take advantage of your opportunities, because you never know how long that window is going to be open for you. I try to tell the guys to come to practice every day and work hard. Get better. As a former teammate of Chris Paul, what can you tell us about him that people might be surprised to know? Obviously hes also coming off a season in which he had several injuries, but has helped lead the Hornets to a very good first half.
Peterson: Being close friends with some of the guys on the (Hornets), Im happy for them. Im happy that Chris bounced back. I know there was a lot of speculation on whether Chris was going to be able to regain the form that he had in previous years because he got hurt, but I think hes proven a lot of people wrong. Hes playing very well.

As far as him as a teammate, Chris is the kind of guy who will bend over backwards to help you. Hes just got a genuine love for people and his friends and those who are close to him. I think he holds that close to him. If you look at his family, they are very close and Chris is very family-oriented. A guy like him doesnt come around very often, someone who at a young age, gets it and understands what it takes to make yourself better. Thats another thing I try to tell the young players here who are on their way up. They might have a tough game, and well be in practice the next day and Ill say, This is when Chris Paul got better. The day after the game. He goes even harder in practice. Thats how you get better as a player. How about David West? Whats something about him that the average fan might not realize?
Peterson: D West, hes got a quiet confidence. Hes not one of those guys who say a lot, but he gets it done on the court. He really understands the game and is very smart. I remember we used to go through (offensive) sets for other teams, and he knew exactly everything they did and where they were going to be on the floor. I thought that was kind of rare. There arent a lot of guys who understand the game the way he does. Having the unique experience of being their teammates in consecutive years, are there any similarities between Chris Paul and Kevin Durant in terms of their approach to the game?
Peterson: Both of them have had some success early in their careers. Both of them came out of college with a lot of expectations on them. They both work hard, love the game and have tremendous talent. I see a lot of the same things in Kevin. He wants to get better. He doesnt read about all of the good things he does (to get overconfident). He still understands that he has a lot of work to do. It seems like there are several former Michigan State standout players who have gotten into broadcasting such as Steve Smith and Eric Snow. Is that something you would consider, so you can get on TV and talk about the Spartans all day?
Peterson: You mean my Spartan dogs? [laughs] Thats a possibility. I did some stuff for NBA TV during the playoffs a few years back, as a correspondent for them. I do have some experience doing that. So I might dabble in that a little bit. But when Im done playing, I definitely want to spend some time with my family. I just had twins seven months ago, so I want to spend some time watching them grow up.

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