Olimpia Milan will celebrate the “DAN PETERSON NIGHT” on Sunday, April 2. During the half-time of the Italian league game between Olimpia Milano and Reyer Venezia, Dan Peterson’s career will be honored. Over nine and a half seasons, in addition to winning at every level, Dan Peterson redefined the figure of the coach in Italy and in Europe.
“Dan Peterson defined an era in the history of Olimpia, paved with international successes, credibility and great champions who he was able to manage and motivate thanks to his charisma, his personality and enthusiasm. Even more than that, Peterson was able to reach people beyond basketball to become a popular personality for many years, to this day, by virtue of his open-mindedness and intelligence. In addition to being a historical figure of Olimpia, he has always been, even when he left the club, a sincere and passionate friend of all of us. For the company and for Mr. Armani, being able to celebrate him represents an enormous satisfaction,” said Pantaleo Dell’Orco, President of Olimpia Milano.
“For me it was a bolt out of the blue – says Coach Peterson -, totally unexpected. This is not only a beautiful and appreciated honor, but also an exciting time for me. As I will say on April 2, I want to thank everyone. First, my champions: without them I would never have received this great honor. Second, the club: starting with Adolfo Bogoncelli, who wanted me at Olimpia; to the general manager Toni Cappellari, who managed the team perfectly; to the Gabetti family, who always thought and acted big; to Cesare Rubini, always in my corner, every day and every game. Then, our fans: it was an honor to be the coach of my champions and it was a pleasure to be the ‘Coach’ of the Olimpia fans. Finally, Mr. Giorgio Armani, who wanted me back in 2010/11. That was the best gift I could have received. And I wish to thank him also for everything he does, for Italian sport, for Italian basketball and for what he is doing for our Olimpia, which he brought back to the top of Italian and European basketball. I also thank the Olimpia of now, the President Dell’Orco and Coach Messina. Once again, I feel like the luckiest man alive.”
Born in Evanston on Lake Michigan shore, close to Chicago, in 1936, Dan Peterson arrived in Milan from Bologna in 1978 where he had won an Italian league championship and established himself as a top-level coach. Before moving to Italy, he had been an assistant at Michigan State, the head coach at Delaware and then had achieved the best results in the history of the Chilean national team. After winning the title in Bologna, in Milan he defined a golden era for the club: after reaching (but losing) the championship series in 1979 with the so-called “Banda Bassotti”, he brought Olimpia back to the title in 1982. In all, Olimpia played six consecutive finals with Dan Peterson on the bench, winning it in 1985, 1986 and 1987. In 1986 and 1987 Olimpia also won two Italian Cups with him at the helm. Peterson was great on the bench but also off, establishing himself as a television personality, advertising testimonial, successful journalist. At Olimpia, he made the 1-3-1 zone and the D’Antoni-Meneghin “L play” or slogans like “spitting blood” famous. And he rebuilt the club’s international mentality: he led Olimpia to two European Cup finals, winning it all in 1987. He also achieved the so-called 1987 “Grand Slam” and also won the Korac Cup in 1986. He retired in 1987 but returned briefly to the bench in 2011.
During the night, the number 36 jersey, which commemorates the year of Coach Peterson’s birth and also that of the official foundation of the club, will be retired. The other jerseys retired by Olimpia are Mike D’Antoni and Sandro Gamba’s 8, Dino Meneghin’s 11 and Arthur Kenney’s 18.