Moose could shoot. He could score. He was an unstoppable basketball player despite being slight and only five foot ten. He once scored 68 points in a men's basketball league game. He averaged over 40 points per game that season. My buddies and I, whom Moose schooled all the time in hoops, would have somewhat serious conversations about whether he was better than Michael Jordan. That went going too far but not by much. It was hard to think of anyone besides Jordan more unstoppable and skilled as an offensive player than Moose. This was before LeBron James. LeBron is better than Moose and probably Kevin Durant, but that's about it.
Yet Moose never played a single game of organized high school basketball. He tried out for his high school's freshman team back in November 1977. The coach, who shall remain nameless but let's call him Stupid, cut him. This was the most idiotic and incompetent coaching decision in the history of basketball. Stupid actually thought 12 players trying out had more talent and could add more value for the team than Moose.
To this day-almost 36 years later-I can't fathom how Stupid could have missed on Moose. Let me tell you about his game. First, he could stroke his shot from the outside with perfect form. You could not block his shot even though he played guard; he knew how to get it off before you got there, follow through, and drill shots all day and night every time he played. He nailed jumpers from all over the court, the baseline, the top of the key, the wing. When Moose shot, it was bottom of the net all the time. Only Kevin Durant shoots the ball better than Moose did.
Around the basket, forget about it. No one knew how to use his body to get position where you couldn't block his shot. Like no ball player I ever played with or against, he knew how to protect the ball from being blocked by placing his body between the defender and the ball. If he got a rebound within 10 feet of the basket, you had no chance of stopping him from scoring. His relatively short height for a hooper even more impressive. Put simply, Moose scored whenever he wanted to.
Coming down on the fast break, you had no chance to prevent him from doing whatever he wanted. If you stayed back and gave him a 15, 20 or 25 foot jumper, enjoy the view. You would see him lift off the ground a foot or so, **** the ball a few inches off to the right side of his head, and fire a fundamentally perfect shot. He would drain that shot.
If you came out to defend him, you were going to get smoked by his hesitation move. He pretended to stop but then would blast to the hoop for a layup and always make it.
For my high school team, I played against dozens of the best high school players in the Washington, D.C., area for four years. Several were All-Americans, others All City. As good as they were, none were as good as Moose.
After getting cut from the freshman team, Moose ended up transferring to another nearby high school not to try out for their team. He kept playing pick-up basketball day and night. In fact, during a pick-up game at his new school before the season, the varsity coach happened to notice him-it was impossible not to. So impressed, the coach invited Moose to try out for his varsity team, one of the Washington area's best. Moose turned him down. To this day I'm not sure why. Only Moose has that answer. He often wouldn't explain himself; he let his game articulate his thoughts and feelings.
Two years later, a college coach saw him playing pick-up. Dazzled, the coach offered Moose a college basketball scholarship having never played one game of organized high school basketball. How many guys do you know landed scholarships because they were so impressive playing pick-up hoops? There is only one whom I know. That college coach got it right: Moose was better than all the guys playing organized hoops anywhere in Washington, D.C. He could not be stopped. He was a scoring machine with unbelievable talent and basketball IQ.
True to his pattern, however, Moose turned down the scholarship. You see Moose was a little different. During high school while normal basketball players competed for their high school teams, Moose played pick-up day and night and got an interesting job in a crab restaurant. Moose was a colorful yet enigmatic character who got more kicks out of playing pick-up, working, and hanging out with the fellas on Friday and Saturday nights.
All this prepared him well. Moose went on to become a major success in the business world. He remains unstoppable.