Second Chance Points

November 16, 2012

F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote that “there are no second acts in American lives.” But don’t tell that to Jonathan Moore –who’s trying to combine his life’s second act with the hoop dreams of Act I.

Unlike some of the players on the Canton Charge’s 15-man training camp roster, Moore isn’t fresh off a decorated Division-I career. He wasn’t assigned from an NBA team and wasn’t selected in the Developmental League Draft on November 2.

Jonathan Moore, 25, is a team member (employee) at Quicken Loans Arena, part of the building crew that sets up and tears down events.

But at the moment, he’s looking to make a drastic career change – attempting to make the Charge’s 10-man roster before the squad opens their second season on November 23 in Canton.

Moore – a married father of two – survived the Charge’s open tryouts held at The Q in September, and was one of just under 50 players to make the cut later that month in Canton. And right now, he’s in Camp with Alex Jensen’s squad – on the cusp of a storybook comeback.

“In Cleveland, I showed that I could score a little bit, but mainly, I did really well on defense,” said the married father of two. “I was kinda out of shape; didn’t have my legs like I wanted to play offense, but I made sure I played hard on defense. And (Cavaliers VP of basketball operations) David Griffin pulled me aside after the second tryout (and said), ‘We’re going to try to bring you down to Canton, but get in shape.’ I dropped a lot of pounds and I was ready for Canton.”

The 6-1, (and now) 190-pound Moore last played organized ball at Stony Brook College in New York, where he predominantly played the 2.

If he hopes to make Canton’s roster, he’ll have to do so at the point – where the competition gets even tougher. He’ll be going against Jorge Gutierrez – last season’s Pac-12 Player and Defensive Player of the Year – and Kevin Anderson, the 2009-10 Atlantic-10 Player of the Year and who was in Camp with the Cavaliers just last month.

Moore knows that he’s battling big odds. But he’s not the type to back down.

“We’re going at each other – we don’t hold back,” he said of the point guard battle. “Everybody goes at each other, so every day is a fight.”

Making the team amidst such heavy competition is tough. Doing so at a new position definitely ups the ante.

“I played 2-guard all my life,” explained Moore. “I’m out of my position, but I’m learning every day. And after my workout, when I was waiting on (Canton’s) call, I was practicing being a point guard.”

Born and raised in Mississippi, Moore’s family moved to Cleveland when he was ten. He had a stellar career at Collinwood High School before attending Monroe Community College in Rochester, N.Y.

Now, he not only has to ward off some stiff competition, but do so while working a day job.

“My job consists of I’m at work all the time, like 16 hours a day,” said Moore. “Even now, training in the morning and having to go to work. Most of these guys, they’re playing pro and they’re playing basketball every day now. And that’s not the case for me. I have to feed my kids and take care of my home – and basketball came second.”

And if those odds weren’t steep enough, remember that Moore – who dropped almost 20 pounds in between his tryouts at The Q and now – also had shake off a few years of rust.

“It’s kinda like you see these guys (in Charge training camp) from big schools, you see them on TV here and there. But I haven’t played on that level of competition in three, almost four years. I came from Stony Brook and there was some pretty good competition there in the American East, but I’ve been just sitting out, playing pick-up games.”

Most basketball fans have seen those big school players in college. Gutierrez, Anderson and Kevin Jones were all their conference’s respective Players of the Year. If you haven’t seen Jonathan Moore, he describes his game as “hard-nosed.” He’s comfortable setting up teammates, but says his strengths are shooting and defense.

Moore understands that he’s a long-shot and the odds are stacked against him. But all he can do is plug away in an attempt to make the Cavaliers’ Canton affiliate.

“Every day I get more confident and more comfortable with everything I’m doing, and I know there’s a lot of competition. You just have to work hard every day. And I’m very confident.”

Jonathan Moore has already survived a couple rounds of cuts in Canton. He has the skills, the confidence and the work-ethic. And he also has the faith that somehow he can complete the storybook finish – living his own dream and inspiring others to do the same. And whether he makes it onto the final roster or not, just reaching this level has been a victory in itself.

“Me and my wife were talking and (I said), ‘Of course I want to play basketball for a living; this is my dream. But I want to use this like God using me for this – showing people never to give up. You can give up on a lot of things, but you still can have that chance.

“I gave up. After Stony Brook, I gave up. But I had faith in myself, and God most of all. If you have faith and you have confidence, anything can happen. And if I do make the team or if I don’t make the team, I want guys to know that you can do anything. Don’t ever give up on your dream.”