Craig Moore Couldn’t Quit Basketball
Craig Moore essentially had retired as a basketball player.
The former Northwestern University sharpshooter had a little taste of international ball, playing in the Netherlands (2009-10) and Romania (2011-12), but he had decided it was time to get on with life.
Now a 32-year-old financial advisor in New York, Moore’s competitive juices were rekindled a couple years ago as 3x3 basketball emerged in official competition. He played in local 3x3 tournaments, and then started traveling internationally on the FIBA 3x3 World Tour.
This week, he has a chance to take a step toward a goal he never thought he would realize.
Moore will join 15 others in Chicago as USA Basketball holds a training camp to determine the four players who will represent the U.S. at the 2020 FIBA 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament from March 18-22 in Bengaluru, India. To advance to Tokyo for the Olympic Games, the U.S. — winner of last summer’s FIBA 3x3 World Cup — will need to finish in the top three.
“I just decided, after sitting out a season (following a championship in Romania) that it was time to kind of retire, move on, hang up those shoes and start working,” said Moore, who finished his Northwestern career with 320 3-pointers, fourth in Big Ten Conference history. “I continued to play basketball three, four times a week and open runs and leagues throughout Chicago, New York when I was deciding where to take a job, but I never lost the edge to play. It wasn't that I didn't love the game anymore. So, when I got this opportunity to play 3x3, it was kind of a no-brainer for me to play as much as possible. And you know, I don't golf. So, these are kind of my golf trips. Our team travels with four guys, so I get to see three of my close friends, spend time with people and see the world.”
Moore has been around 3x3 since graduating from Northwestern in 2009. Princeton alum John Rogers, considered one of the founding fathers of competitive 3x3, had events around Chicago and graduates of the two prestigious universities grew to have a bond over basketball. That included Bill Carmody, who was the head coach at Princeton University (1996-2000) before taking over the Northwestern program (2000-2013), the latter stint covering Moore’s career with the Wildcats.
Twice, Moore represented USA Basketball at the FIBA 3x3 World Cup, finishing 14th in 2014 and seventh in 2017. Now with a deep talent pool that has competed on the FIBA World Tour and other events to be eligible for the Olympics, the U.S. is looking to put together a dynamic team for Tokyo.
Moore will have a handful of teammates from the Princeton team in camp, not to mention the rivals from New York Harlem — which, at No. 4, is one spot ahead of Princeton in the FIBA World Tour rankings. Several players on both teams live and work in New York.
“We're both kind of mostly New York-based teams,” Moore said. “Our team is spread out throughout the United States, but we still have three that live in New York City. (Harlem has) five guys (in New York) and then one guy in Minnesota. But, we would travel 24 hours, 30-hour trips (for the World Tour), whatever it may be, to play against another team from New York City in the quarterfinals. It's pretty funny to be traveling that far to be competing against someone you could probably travel 20 minutes to play.”
Moore is hoping to add two more lengthy trips to his itinerary this summer. A standout effort this week could earn him one of those coveted four roster spots on the team that will travel to India, and then hopefully a trip to Tokyo for the Olympics.
“I can't even say it would be a dream come true. It's a dream I never imagined could be true,” Moore said of possibly playing in the Olympics. “So, it would be beyond my wildest expectations and something that we definitely don't take for granted the opportunity to represent the United States.”