TULSA — It's easy to pick out Tracy Moore before he even introduces himself.
It's the shoes. They're bright orange and black Nikes — with the No. 87 embroidered on the back — adding some pop to the tan scrubs he's wearing as he settles into a seat inside the lobby of the OSU Medical Center.
No, this isn't the Tracy Moore that plays receiver for Oklahoma State. This is his father, who not long ago was the best-known athlete with that name.
In the mid-1980s, the older Moore was regarded as the top high school basketball player in the state when he was a swingman star for John Marshall. He was a three-time All-Missouri Valley Conference selection for the University of Tulsa after that. Then he spent parts of five seasons in the NBA and CBA and also played overseas.
Now the older Moore is happy to hand all attention over to his son, who first shined at Tulsa Union and has since had a productive — though sometimes bumpy — career in Stillwater. And there are high expectations for the younger Moore for 2013, as he gets a second chance at his final season after getting a medical redshirt following a serious ankle injury in 2012.
And the older Moore is enjoying taking part in his son's journey.
“I wish he would have played basketball,” the older Moore quipped, “but I'm a big football fan.”
The younger Moore can't recall much of his dad's professional basketball career. He remembers the delicious pizza in Italy and the abundance of orange trees in Greece while his family traveled back and forth between the United States and overseas.
The biggest reminders of his dad's athletic achievements came from others, such as when the older Moore would get stopped for autographs at restaurants or when folks around town would ask the younger Moore what his dad was up to.
“I still know he was pretty good,” the younger Moore said.
The older Moore, however, has been there to witness his son blossom in sports and in life.
The second-youngest child and only boy, the closest thing the younger Moore ever had to a brother while growing up was his dad. He describes his son as a bit of a mama's boy at heart, but with a big — sometimes stubborn — personality.
“He'd have every light on in the house, the TV is on,” the older Moore said. “(And you'd know) Tracy's here.
“He didn't want to make his bed. Didn't want to clean his room. Didn't want to cut (the plants in) the backyard. I'd always tell him, ‘We're a team. I'll cut the front (yard), you cut the back.'”
The younger Moore was also always physically bigger than the other kids his age. And more athletic.
So when he started playing youth football, he naturally wanted to line up at an offensive skill position. Catch the ball. Run with the ball. Something.
As a fourth-grader, though, he was already the biggest player on the team and weighed too much to do anything but block.
“He really struggled with that,” the older Moore said. “He said, ‘Aw dad, I don't wanna block.' It turns out, growing up, that helped his blocking skills now. You play receiver, you gotta learn the block.”
Naturally, Dad also taught Son how to play hoops. They'd play in the yard with the neighborhood kids, with the older Moore often beating the younger Moore with a move that involved him going behind-the-back and spinning for a dunk.
Until Son returned the favor at age 14.
“I dunked on him one time,” the younger Moore said, admitting the basket was shorter than the standard 10 feet. “I haven't seen him out there since with all of (the neighbors). He won't play me in front of people anymore.”
The younger Moore continued to play both sports, with Dad serving as his summer league basketball coach.
The older Moore started to believe his son had more natural talent than he did growing up. But the younger Moore still needed to improve his work ethic, and that stubborn personality.
One summer during high school, the younger Moore got temporarily kicked off his dad's team because he wasn't practicing hard enough.
“We're getting to leave for a tournament,” the older Moore said, “and it was like, ‘No, you can stay here. You're not going to play.' He kind of sulked a little bit, but he got it together. I sent him a message that you've got to continue (working). But he came back and played ball for me. Lesson learned.”
Still, the older Moore knew early on that football would ultimately be his son's future. He told his son that if he ever committed to getting in better shape, he was “going to be a monster.”
That happened the summer after his freshman season at Union. He went on to become one of the top players in the state, tallying more than 1,000 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns in 2008 while helping lead Union to the Class 6A state championship.
He then signed with OSU, essentially continuing to fulfill an aspiration his dad never could.
“This is a dream come true,” the older Moore said, “because he's doing something that deep down, I always thought, ‘What if I could have played football?' I was chicken. I was like, ‘I don't know if I can take them hits.'
“I kind of live through him and his football.”
Since arriving in Stillwater, the younger Moore has developed into a key offensive playmaker for the Cowboys.
First, he was the big inside target to complement freak playmaker Justin Blackmon on the outside and underneath threat Josh Cooper in the slot. Last season, he showed flashes of becoming a go-to receiver, most notably with a four-touchdown performance against Arizona before his season ended prematurely. Over his career, he's tallied 93 catches, 1,326 yards and 12 touchdowns.
The older Moore admits he gets a bigger thrill out of watching games on TV — “national TV” he emphasizes — than going to the stadium. And he marvels at the Cowboy stars his son has gotten to play with, such as Blackmon and quarterbacks Brandon Weeden and Zac Robinson.
The concern for the younger Moore throughout his OSU career, however, has been staying out of trouble away from the field.
He only played on special teams during the Fiesta Bowl after mouthing off to a coach during practice earlier in the week. Then, he was suspended for the first game of the 2012 season following multiple brushes with the law that never resulted in charges.
The older Moore realizes he can't make decisions for his son at this point in his life. But he tries to remind the younger Moore that he can't be a normal college kid, and that a “bonehead” move now could impact his future.
“You love him when he's doing good, and you still love him when he's doing bad,” the older Moore said. “You just try to get him back on the right track. With a kid like him, it's not very hard to do. He understands.”
Dad believes his son has learned his lesson. And he's thankful for the chances OSU has given him to stick around.
“When this year's over, I'm going to go up to Coach (Mike) Gundy and give him a big hug,” the older Moore said. “Because he's had to deal with a lot of things. He probably should have been kicked off the team with a lot of stuff he was doing. (I told my son to) give back to (Gundy). Show him that you appreciate him.
“We used to sit at home and be like, ‘(Gundy's) going to throw him off the team. Please, Coach, (don't do it).' I knew he was a good kid. He was just doing dumb things, teenager stuff.”
* * *
These days, the older Moore is doing psych tech work with Hillcrest's Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Center. He's also doing some coaching at Cascia Hall. And he'll continue to rock those orange and black Nikes.
He admits he wishes he could have found more professional basketball success, but thinks fondly back on playing under coaches like Rudy Tomjanovich and Flip Saunders and matching up against Michael Jordan.
Lots of the older Moore's basketball memorabilia — such as his CBA All-Star jersey — hangs on the wall of his game room at home. Soon, the younger Tracy will get his own wall in the room, since Dad currently has the Big 12 championship ring and plenty of jerseys and press clippings.
And the older Moore's eyes and smile grow wide when thinking about the possibility of getting to watch his son play in the NFL.
The younger Moore certainly has the physical tools to make it at the next level. A 6-2, 215-pound frame. Solid hands. Versatility to play multiple receiver spots.
The extra year in college, the older Moore believes, will help his son, as well. It's another chance for the younger Moore to put up big numbers, and another chance to show he's, simply, grown up. The older Moore continues to pound his favorite motto into his son's head: “If you stay ready, you don't have to get ready.”
“He came into the (2012) season with all this baggage,” the older Moore said. “Look at it as a blessing. Come in, clean slate, work hard. Now you've got an even better opportunity to go to the next level.
“If he can stay healthy, he may get a shot at it.”
So perhaps both Tracy Moores will end up as professional athletes.
It would give the father-son duo another way to connect through sports. Yet the older Moore is satisfied with the memories they've already made together.
“Watching my son play ball like that, I enjoy it,” he said. “… My son there on TV. National TV. ESPN. He's doing it. I'm so proud of him.”