Friendship, Photography, and Basketball

©John Peterson

Photography has a way of reaching through the years. When lifetime PPA member John Peterson, M.Photog.Cr., came across photos he’d taken in his youth, it led to a remarkable reunion.

1952 Minneapolis Lakers basketball players Bud Grant and Bob Harrison confer with ushers in the background
©John Peterson
John Peterson captured this image of Minneapolis Lakers basketball players Bud Grant (left) and Bob Harrison in 1952.

In 1952, when Peterson was 13 years old, his enthusiasm for the Minneapolis Lakers professional basketball team (and his grandfather) brought him to his first game. Prior to that day he had been an avid fan listening to games on the radio. With a hopeful certainty that only the young possess, Peterson approached the Lakers’ locker room with his 35mm Retina 2A camera in hand. Guard Bobby Harrison met him at the door, immediately nicknamed him Petey, and introduced him to the team. From then on Peterson became something of a mascot to the team and was allowed to take photos from a position under the basket, which he did for many games over the next four years.

Basketball player Jim Pollard executes a layup while opposing players defend, circa 1952
©John Peterson
At age 13 John Peterson captured this action shot of Minneapolis Laker Jim Pollard, who later became a member of the NBA Hall of Fame.

Nearly 70 years later in 2019, the Minneapolis Star Tribune ran a story on Peterson’s find, featuring some of his 1950s Lakers photos. Writer John Reinan also interviewed some of the remaining Lakers players from those days, including Harrison and Bud Grant, who, following his Laker days, went on to coach the Minnesota Vikings NFL team for 18 years. Harrison and Grant, both 92 years old at the time, hadn’t spoken for 68 years. It was Peterson who put the two in touch with each other following the article, and he still maintains his weekly phone call friendship with Harrison, who is now nearing 94.

Peterson has had a long career full of achievement and contribution to the profession of photography, from photographing his first wedding at 16, to earning his master and craftsman degrees, to serving on PPA Council and receiving three PPA National Awards. Peterson is now semi-retired and lives in Hibbing, Minnesota.

Harlem Globetrotter basketball star Goose Tatum playing against New York Celtics players, dark background
©John Peterson
Young Peterson also became friends with original Harlem Globetrotters star Goose Tatum (left). Peterson would assist Tatum with some of the tricks he performed on court from under the basket.