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James Richard Petersen (born February 22, 1962) is a retired American basketball player, and a current television analyst with the Minnesota Timberwolves. From 2009-2017 he served as an assistant coach and later associate head coach for the Minnesota Lynx of the WNBA. He played as either a power forward or a center.

Jim Petersen
Jim Petersen 1988.JPG
Petersen in 1988
Personal information
Born (1962-02-22) February 22, 1962 (age 57)
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Listed height6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)
Listed weight235 lb (107 kg)
Career information
High schoolSaint Louis Park
(St. Louis Park, Minnesota)
CollegeMinnesota (1980–1984)
NBA draft1984 / Round: 3 / Pick: 51st overall
Selected by the Houston Rockets
Playing career1984–1992
PositionPower forward / Center
Coaching career2008–2017
Career history
As player:
19841988Houston Rockets
1988–1989Sacramento Kings
19891992Golden State Warriors
As coach:
2008–2017Minnesota Lynx (assistant)
Career highlights and awards
Career NBA statistics
Points3,397 (6.9 ppg)
Rebounds2,354 (4.8 rpg)
Assists487 (1.0 apg)
Stats at


Basketball careerEdit

High school / CollegeEdit

Petersen, a St. Louis Park native, played high school basketball at St. Louis Park High School, being named Minnesota's Mr. Basketball in 1980,[1] as well as being the first McDonald's All-American from the state of Minnesota.

Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, he then went on to be a four-year letter winner at the University of Minnesota, and a member of the 1982 Big Ten Championship team that featured future NBA veterans Trent Tucker and Randy Breuer.


Petersen was selected by the Houston Rockets in the third round (51st overall) of the 1984 NBA Draft, alongside Hakeem Olajuwon. In the following four seasons, he played with the Texas club, backing up both Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson, who were known as the Twin Towers. In reference to his very light complexion, Petersen was affectionately known as "The Ivory Tower" during his time in Houston.[2] Petersen played in 20 post-season games (averaging six points and six rebounds) as the team reached the NBA Finals, losing 2–4 to the Boston Celtics.

In 1988, Peterson was traded with Rodney McCray to the Sacramento Kings for Otis Thorpe. A year later, he was traded to the Golden State Warriors for former teammate Ralph Sampson.

In the 1986–87 season, as Sampson began to struggle with injuries, Petersen achieved career-best averages of 11 points and seven rebounds, playing in all 82 games and starting in 56. He retired in 1992 at the age of 30, after two seasons with the Rockets, one season with the Kings, and three seasons with the Warriors, with totals of 491 games and 3,397 points.


Petersen in 2016, as associate head coach of the Lynx.

After leaving the NBA, Petersen worked for the National Basketball Players Association in their player programs division, facilitating seminars in NBA locker rooms in topics such as HIV and AIDS, financial planning, substance abuse and career planning for life after basketball. He also coached junior high, high school and AAU basketball teams in La Jolla, California and Minneapolis.

He has worked as a television analyst with the Minnesota Timberwolves since 2003; prior to that he was a radio analyst since 1998. As a broadcaster, Petersen has been acclaimed for his deep knowledge of basketball and detailed commentary on the nuances of the game.[3][4] In November 2008, Petersen was named assistant coach of the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx; in 2016 he was named Associate Head Coach.[1] In January 2017, he announced he was stepping down as Associate Head Coach.[5]

He resides in Wayzata, MN with his wife Tika and son Sanjay, a basketball player at Northwestern University.


  1. ^ a b "Lynx hire Petersen as assistant". NewsBank. 19 November 2008. Retrieved 19 August 2010.
  2. ^ "Sampson Gives Rockets Some Punch". SunSentinel=6 June 1986.
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External linksEdit