The Jazz's Great Point-Guard Search opened Friday at Westminster College, where anybody could try out for the job of backing up John Stockton.
Well, almost anybody."I lost my chance again," said owner Larry Miller, scanning the roster to find seven other point guards.
Checking out the seven, we find that Billy Donovan's shooting range is much better this summer, Ricky Grace is already wearing Rickey Green's No. 14, Utah State's Kevin Nixon could be the best undrafted player around and Jeff Moe looks absolutely nothing like Bobby Hansen.
So much for advertising.
If he's a guard from the University of Iowa who plays hard, dives on the floor and actually likes defense, he has to be another Bobby Hansen, right? Actually, even if the 6-foot-3 Moe is shorter than Hansen and has short, dark hair, he'll gladly take any comparison to the other former Hawkeye.
"He's a big role model for me," says Moe, the Jazz's second-round draft choice. "Nobody ever said he was going to make it, and he's done great things in the league."
Hansen arrived in Utah as a third-rounder just when the Jazz were becoming good in 1983; Moe comes when the team is going better than ever. Moe's chances of making the Jazz faded a little when free agent Bart Kofoed signed a two-year contract last month, but there's still a point-guard vacancy and Moe and others figure that's where he'll have to play in the NBA anyway.
"He has to show 'em he can play point guard," says Hansen, who will be an interested observer in October's training camp.
"We're going to find out what he can do," said Coach Frank Layden, concerned only about the weekend camp for the moment. "I don't want to put a kid at a position he just can't play; that's not fair."
Moe was Iowa's off-guard and three-point shooter, but he's devoted the summer to working on his ballhandling in Iowa City and wants to play the point. "There's a spot open," he says, "and that's all I can ask for."
Growing up in Indianapolis, Moe happened to become a big follower of Pete Maravich and the New Orleans Jazz. Last winter, Iowa assistant coach Gary Close videotaped Jazz games and had Moe watch them with him, always saying, "If you're ever going to play, you've got to be like John Stockton."
Or Bobby Hansen. Just as Hansen has fashioned an NBA career for himself - five years, already - by working hard, Moe made himself a good college player by improving his shooting and playing emotionally, diving after loose balls and yelling at his teammates. "That's the only way I got my scholarship, because I'm not the greatest athlete," Iowa's all-time games-played leader says. "There are certain things you've got to do just to get on the floor. If I didn't do that stuff, I'd be out by the water cooler."
Hansen discovered that before the draft in June, when Moe played in Hansen's Farm Game II in Iowa City. "He's an extremely hard worker, hustling all the time," he said.
Moe was the hit of the NBA's pre-draft camp in Chicago, making the Jazz figure he'd never last until late in the second round. But here he is and, because both a trade for Jon Sundvold and a possible free-agent signing of Rory Sparrow fell through, the Jazz still need a point guard.
"We're searching for that now," says Layden, who worries not only about being able to rest Stockton for 10 or 12 minutes a game but having a replacement if he's injured - no matter that Stock's played all 328 games in four seasons.
In any case, that's why Moe and the rest are in town this week, as Phase I of The Search. "Obviously, they want to see everybody they can," mused Moe. "If I were the coach, I'd do the same thing."
But the owner will not be in uniform this weekend, even if he's been known to wear official practice gear and shoot baskets before home games. And even though Karl Malone says, "If Mr. Miller could produce and help us win games, I'd play with him."