MoPete just keeps going

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:42 AM ET

Ask Morris Peterson how he has endured 258 consecutive games and he'll point to his bare left shoulder.

An angry looking tattoo that reads FLINT, the hardscarbble Roger And Me motor city in Michigan where he grew up would indeed explain in part the physical prowess to play more than three years without a night off, the longest active streak in the National Basketball Association.

But it's really upstairs where the best clue is found for his remarkable run, which continues tonight at the Air Canada Centre when the Raptors face the last-place Atlanta Hawks. The 27-year-old is among the most mentally strong players on the Raptors.

"It's a job," the 6-foot-7, 215-pound forward said yesterday in defining his approach to an 82-game schedule. "I was told once that if you're out there on the court feeling good than something is wrong. There's always going to be some kind of little nagging injury. I won't feel 100%, but I give 110%."

Peterson does credit his college coaches for instilling a strong off-season work regimen, during the school's run to the 2000 NCAA title.

"They told me summertime is the most important time, so when the season starts, I can avoid injuries," said Peterson, who moved ahead of Antawn Jamison of the Washington Wizards this week when the latter pulled out of the lineup with a bad knee. Just a few days earlier, Peterson was questionable for a couple of games on the Raptors' trip after a knee-on-knee collision in Memphis.

Naturally, his streak has sparked a comparison of eras, as to whether it was easier or harder 20 or 30 years ago to put together such a run when the NBA was a smaller league. The NBA's top ironman is A.C. Green with 1,192 games -- 1986-2001 -- with four teams.

"I think the travel is easier," coach Sam Mitchell said. "It was harder when you had to fly commercial (compared to charter). But to play that many games, it says something about Mo and his character, his toughness and his willingness to play."

Jalen Rose saluted Peterson's ability to pace himself from October to the spring.

"You have to pick and choose your battles, pick and choose how many times you (get knocked) to that floor," Rose said. "The more times you hit the floor, the less likely you have of a streak. It says (of Peterson) that you're blessed, you're lucky and it says you take care of your body.

"I wouldn't say it's easier today. It's hard to come to work every single day regardless of what you do for a living, especially if it's physical exertion."

Peterson says the 21st century lifestyle also has been a challenge for pro athletes.

"The expectations are getting greater and greater," he said. "People think you can just go out there and do everything all the time. But there are a lot of injuries and things that go on.

"I watched A.C. play a lot of games in a row and and I sat there and thought 'wow, that's a lot of luck, but a lot of hard work.' "


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