NAACP dinner to feature Altoona grad Moore

Former professional basketball player Johnny Moore will be the featured speaker at the annual Freedom Fund Dinner.

The event is sponsored by the Blair County Chapter of the NAACP and will take place at 6 p.m. Saturday, April 27 at the Calvin House.

Moore, a 1975 graduate of Altoona Area High School, was Altoona’s first NBA player.

“From all the feedback we’re getting, the public is happy Johnny’s coming back,” NAACP President Don Witherspoon said. “And on a personal level, I was an instructor at the Booker T. Washington Center when Johnny was young, and we had a good relationship. Even in the winter time, he’d clean off the [outside] courts to play basketball. He worked for it.”

Moore, now 55, was a standout point guard and played nine NBA seasons (1980-90), almost all of which came with the San Antonio Spurs, who retired his number 00.

Over 520 games in his NBA career, Moore averaged 9.4 points, 7.4 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.96 steals per game. In 1981-82, playing beside George Gervin, Moore led the NBA in assists at 9.6 per game and finished among the league’s top five distributors in his first four seasons.

The 1984-85 season may have been his best as Moore averaged 12.8 points per game, 10.0 assists (third in the league) and 2.8 steals (second in the league). When the Spurs advanced to the NBA’s Western Conference final against the Lakers in 1983, Moore averaged 22.5 points and 14.5 assists in 11 playoff games, including a career-high 39 points in a game against the Denver Nuggets. Five times during that playoff run, Moore dished out 17 or more assists.

In 1986, Moore’s career took an unfortunate turn when he was stricken with “desert fever,” a rare form of meningitis that caused him to miss most of the 1985-86 season and part of the 1986-87 season.

He was waived by the Spurs in 1987 and the New Jersey Nets in 1988 but came back to finish his career as a backup point guard with San Antonio in 1989-90 before retiring.

Since his playing days, he worked in community relations with the Spurs, coached in the San Antonio area and conducted basketball clinics, including one last summer in Altoona. He is currently the head coach of the Corpus Christi Clutch of the American Basketball League.

Since Moore blazed the trail of becoming the first local player to make the NBA, three others (Doug West, Mike Iuzzolino and Danny Fortson) followed.

The son of the late Bill and June Moore, Moore was inducted into the Blair County Sports Hall of Fame in 1994.

Tickets for the NAACP dinner are priced at $40 and are available by calling 942-1126 or 944-5390.