Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Arcane Birthday Biographies: Morris Peterson

Morris Peterson's life in basketball revolved around Mateen Cleaves from the time they were children.  Born less than a month a part, the boys lived blocks from each other in Flint, Michigan.

In high school, they played on rival teams and knew each other well from Flint's pickup scene.  Cleaves was the man back then, and Mo Pete was known as nothing more than a gunner.  When both accepted scholarships to Michigan State, Cleaves was taking a school that was close to home over all the other big names, and Peterson was lucky just to have a scholarship from an established program.

As the players progressed through their careers (which would both culminate in a national championship in 2000 with the help of Jason Richardson), Mateen was the most important player.  He was Michigan State's only three-time All-American and named MOP of the 2000 Final Four.

Obviously, today, Mateen Cleaves is in street clothes and Mo Pete is in the NBA.  What happened?

It all turned on the right hand of Peterson.  In 1997, Peterson broke his non-shooting hand on a dunk attempt,  and although he was still serviceable with a cast, he couldn't really get his offensive game going.  He had been a horrific defender before the injury but with his cast, the only way he could get on the court was by playing defense.

Ever since, Peterson has been known as more of a sweet-shooting forward with defense than a gunner, and he was a key player in the 2000 championship, a first round pick, and started in the NBA until last season.

Happy Birthday, Mo.

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