Moe tried selling insurance for a while, went into the Army for six months and eventually wound up playing basketball in Italy. He stayed there for two years.
At the height of the betting scandal, Moe had decided to marry Jane Twisdale, the only girl he had ever met who had no interest in trying to reform him. "The only reason I went out with Jane was because she didn't talk," Moe says. "I had the Brooklyn accent and she had a Southern accent, so we really couldn't understand each other. We didn't talk the whole first year we were married." At some point during those early years, Moe began calling his wife Big Jane, a tribute that often left the impression that she was slightly larger than life. "I'd tell people she was about 250 pounds," Moe says. "You'd be amazed how many people meet her even now and say they thought she was going to be seven feet tall."
When the ABA was formed in 1967, Moe returned to the U.S. to play for the New Orleans Buccaneers, but by then he had developed such a severe case of hypochondria he was convinced he had only a short while to live. "He always thought he was dying of a brain tumor," says Walsh. "There were times when it got so bad he wouldn't come out of the house for weeks." The day he signed with the Bucs, he was standing on Bourbon Street with Larry Brown. He suddenly grabbed hold of a light pole and announced, "This is it. I'm dying." Not long thereafter Moe fainted dead away while working at Dean Smith's basketball camp and had to be rushed to a hospital. When he regained consciousness, his left arm and leg were completely numb, even though the doctors could find nothing physically wrong with him. He somehow overcame these phantom death rattles and finished second in scoring to Connie Hawkins during the ABA's first season. Then there's his fear of flying, which has led him to get off countless airplanes—sometimes even after they've pulled away from the gate—and drive to games. When Moe was traded to the Oakland Oaks after his rookie season in the ABA, Oaks coach Alex Hannum refused to give him a no-cut contract, despite the exemplary year he had had in New Orleans. Hannum told Moe he would have to accept Oakland's offer because he was getting old and had no bargaining power. "Alex, you don't know me," Moe told him, "and what you don't know is I do have bargaining power—because if I never get on another airplane again, it'll be fine with me." Hannum forthwith offered more money.
Moe, who played for four ABA teams in his five pro seasons, never intended to become a coach, but when his playing career ended in 1972 because of his bad knees, Larry Brown asked Moe to be his assistant with the Carolina Cougars. Brown and Moe were inseparable. Once when Brown was playing for Oakland he was home nursing an injury during an Oaks road trip. Moe decided to go out to dinner with Rick Barry, another teammate. When they got to the restaurant, Moe asked Barry, "What do I want to eat?" Barry, puzzled by the question, said, "Why are you asking me?"
Moe stared at him blankly for a moment and replied, "If Larry was here, he'd know what I want to eat."
As coaches, Brown and Moe made an odd couple on the bench, Brown in a velvet tux one day and designer overalls the next, Moe looking like a taxicab with its doors open every day. A few years before, when they were players with Virginia, Squires coach and general manager Al Bianchi took them to a New York clothier. "Doug got two suits—one blue and one brown," Brown recalls. "He said, 'Look, Larry, now I've got four outfits.' He was so proud."
Last season Moe was named the second-worst-dressed coach in the NBA by USA Today, and the feeling was that Moe would have won the title if Utah coach Frank Layden, the victor, hadn't gotten special treatment because he's fat. "I consider this all a very depressing commentary on my fashion statement," Moe says, hitching up his sweatpants.
His instincts run so naturally to sloth that Big Jane and Brown practically had to force him into accepting his first head coaching job with San Antonio. "I've always been a lazy person," he says. "I would have been happy to go on being Larry's assistant for the rest of my life." Moe had a winning percentage of .567 during his four seasons with the Spurs, but his job was in jeopardy from the beginning because team president Angelo Drossos didn't like him. Drossos was by profession a stockbroker who believed that long hours of hard work were the key to getting results, and he was infuriated every time he picked up a newspaper and read that Moe was practically living on the golf course.
The day before the 1979 draft, Moe was sitting in his office, and he watched in amazement as the NBA telex coughed out one message after another from coaches, giving hourly rundowns on their whereabouts and the phone numbers where they could be reached in case someone wanted to discuss a trade. "I'm cracking up," Moe says. "All these guys were taking themselves too seriously. So I figured I'd send my own message and shake these stiffs up." Moe sent out an urgent notice on the telex advising anyone who wanted to reach him that day he would be on the 9th tee at a San Antonio golf course. "They were all so appalled that I'd do that," he says.
After Moe was fired several months later, he received no offers. "The bad thing about acting the way I did when you're starting is that if you're fired, you might never work again," he says. "It's tough to get a job if you don't act like a coach or talk like one."