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Doug Moe

For the American journalist, see Doug Moe (writer).
File:Doug Moe (1).jpeg
Moe during his ABA career

Douglas Edwin Moe (born September 21, 1938) is an American professional basketball coach. He is most closely associated with the Denver Nuggets franchise.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Moe was a star player at the University of North Carolina where he was a two-time All-American. However, his collegiate career ended in controversy when he admitted to being associated with a point shaving scandal.[1] Moe received $75 from fix conspirator Aaron Wagman to fly to a meeting in New Jersey, arranged by Moe's friend conspirator Lou Brown, but Moe reportedly turned down an offer to throw games. There is no evidence that Moe was ever involved in a fix conspiracy, but his ties to the scandal blemished his reputation. [2] He did not enter the NBA as a player, instead playing for the American Basketball Association for the New Orleans Buccaneers, Oakland Oaks, Washington Caps, Carolina Cougars and Virginia Squires. He garnered ABA All-Star honors three times in an injury-shortened five-year professional playing career.

Moe became a head coach in 1976–77, after serving as an assistant coach for the Carolina Cougars. Moe worked behind the bench for 15 years, ten of them with the Denver Nuggets. He also had stops in San Antonio and Philadelphia.

In Denver

Moe began his coaching career with the Carolina Cougars in the ABA as an assistant coach to his UNC teammate, Larry Brown from 1972 to 1974. He then followed Brown to Denver, where they coached the Nuggets from 1974 to 1976. During those two seasons, the Nuggets were 125–43 (.744). They advanced to the ABA Finals in 1976, but lost to the New York Nets in six games.

After the ABA–NBA merger in 1976, Moe served as a head coach for the San Antonio Spurs for four seasons (1976–80), leading them to a conference finals appearance in 1979. He returned to Denver in 1980 to take over the head coaching reigns from another UNC alum Donnie Walsh. From 1980 to 1990, Moe compiled a 432–357 (.548) record and led the Nuggets to the postseason nine-straight years—advancing as far as the Western Conference Finals in 1985. He guided the Nuggets to two Midwest Division titles (’84–85 and ’87–88) and a franchise-record 54 wins in 1987–88. He was named NBA Coach of the Year that same year. Under Moe’s direction, the Nuggets high-octane offense led the league in scoring in six of his 10 seasons in Denver.

Moe also served an unsuccessful stint as a head coach for the Philadelphia 76ers (1992–93). In 1979, he led the Spurs to the conference finals. His overall NBA head coaching ledger stands at 628–529 (.543) and his wins are the 19th-most in NBA history.

Coaching style

Moe used a run-and-gun offense which had his team shoot before the opponent's defense had set up.[3] He ran almost no plays, instead relying on ball movement, screens and constant cuts to the basket. Players were not to hold onto the ball for longer than two seconds. The movement of the ball was predicated on what the defense allowed. "You can't diagram it, you can't put a pencil and paper to it. If you do, you're doing an injustice to the system," said former Nuggets assistant Allan Bristow. Moe simply said, "The passing game is basically doing whatever the hell you want."[4]

Moe's passing strategy was adopted from North Carolina head coach Dean Smith. Smith, normally a conservative coach, thought that the passing game could work with the right players, but he did not believe players would be smart enough to execute it at all times.[4]

Though his offensive strategy led to high scores, Moe's Denver teams were never adept at running fast breaks. His teams at times appeared to give up baskets in order to get one. He disputed the fact that his teams did not play defense, attributing the high scores to the pace of the game.[4]

On coming to the NBA after the NBA-ABA merger

"One of the biggest disappointments in my life was going into the NBA after the merger. The NBA was a rinky-dink league—listen, I'm very serious about this. The league was run like garbage. There was no camaraderie; a lot of the NBA guys were aloof and thought they were too good to practice or play hard. The NBA All-Star Games were nothing—guys didn't even want to play in them and the fans could [sic] care less about the games. It wasn't until the 1980s, when David Stern became commissioner, that the NBA figured out what the hell they were doing, and what they did was a lot of stuff we had in the ABA—from the 3-point shot to All-Star weekend to the show biz stuff. Now the NBA is like the old ABA. Guys play hard, they show their enthusiasm and there is a closeness in the league. Hell, the ABA might have lost the battle, but we won the war. The NBA now plays our kind of basketball."[5]

Head coaching record


Regular season G Games coached W Games won L Games lost W–L % Win-loss %
Post season PG Playoff games PW Playoff wins PL Playoff losses PW–L % Playoff win-loss %
Team Year G W L W–L% Finish PG PW PL PW–L% Result
SAS 1976–77 64 44 38 .537 3rd in Central 2 0 2 .000 Lost in First Round
SAS 1977–78 82 52 30 .634 1st in Central 6 2 4 .333 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
SAS 1978–79 82 48 34 .585 1st in Central 14 7 7 .500 Lost in Conf. Finals
SAS 1979–80 66 33 33 .500 (fired)
DEN 1980–81 51 26 25 .510 4th in Midwest Missed Playoffs
DEN 1981–82 82 46 36 .561 2nd in Midwest 3 1 2 .333 Lost in First Round
DEN 1982–83 82 45 37 .549 2nd in Midwest 8 3 5 .375 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
DEN 1983–84 82 38 44 .463 3rd in Midwest 5 2 3 .400 Lost in First Round
DEN 1984–85 82 52 30 .634 1st in Midwest 15 8 7 .533 Lost in Conf. Finals
DEN 1985–86 82 47 35 .573 2nd in Midwest 10 5 5 .500 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
DEN 1986–87 82 37 45 .451 4th in Midwest 3 0 3 .000 Lost in First Round
DEN 1987–88 82 54 28 .659 1st in Midwest 11 5 6 .455 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
DEN 1988–89 82 44 38 .537 3rd in Midwest 3 0 3 .000 Lost in First Round
DEN 1989–90 82 43 39 .524 4th in Midwest 3 0 3 .000 Lost in First Round
PHI 1992–93 56 19 37 .339 (fired)
Career 1157 628 529 .543 83 33 50 .398

See also

National Basketball Association portal


  1. ^ Callahan, Tom (1989-06-26). "Essay: Did Pete Rose Do It? What Are the Odds? spread". Time (magazine). 
  2. ^ Goldstein, Joe (2003-11-19). "Explosion II: The Molinas period spread". ESPN Classic. 
  3. ^ Marchall, John (February 17, 2005). "Doug Moe: Denver's unlikely ambassador". San Diego Union-Tribune. Associated Press. Archived from the original on November 29, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c Newman, Bruce (November 7, 1988). "This Joker Is Wild". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on November 29, 2012. 
  5. ^ Pluto, Terry, Loose Balls: The Short, Wild Life of the American Basketball Association (Simon & Schuster, 1990), ISBN 978-1-4165-4061-8, p.34

External links