Twenty six state championships; multiple national championships; over 1,000 career
victories; one of three high school coaches in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. All
of these incredible accomplishments pale in comparison to the numerous lives (Jersey City, N.J.) St. Anthony’s head basketball coach, Bobby Hurley, has changed.
Disregard the fact that the sports world is marred by scandal and misdeed. It is
inevitable that young children, especially athletes, will look to sports to find their role
models. The pool of eligible role models within sports seems to be shrinking as each day
goes by. I was lucky enough to sit down and talk to Coach Hurley, a role model on and
off the court.
In an era in which the mentality is to constantly look for the next opportunity, it is
rare to see a coach stay in one place for 40 years, especially when one experiences the
level of success that Coach Hurley continues to have at St. Anthony’s. As one could tell
from the opening, he has built St. Anthony’s into the most prestigious high school
basketball program in the country. It was clear within five minutes of the interview why
Coach Hurley never left St. Anthony’s.
It’s really simple for Hurley. He loves helping kids realize their potential
and get them to do more than they think they can even do. His practices are notorious for
their difficulty level, often leading to players being kicked out for their lack of hustle or
execution. I was nervous not to ask the wrong question in the interview and get booted
out of the gym, but luckily, my questions were good enough to not get shown the exit.
Hurley prides himself on the fact that in 39 years of coaching, he has had
only 2 seniors not attend college. This certainly speaks to the character of a man who
has had the opportunity to take his talents to the college game but instead decided that he
would rather further the lives of his players at St. Anthony’s.
One of Hurley’s most recent players, UCLA bound Kyle Anderson,
received high praise from him. Hurley called him “the most complete player I’ve
seen at St. Anthony’s.” He explained that he expects Anderson’s versatility and drive to
win to translate into big things in the future for UCLA. Compliments like that do not
come from Hurley on a daily basis so needless to say, I am sure Anderson will
have a noteworthy college career.
Hurley’s biggest influence on his coaching career actually coached at
UCLA, legend John Wooden. He passed on many of Wooden’s ideals to his teams. In
recent years, Hurley says he has adopted a hybrid coaching style and borrows
ideas from a plethora of coaches to make sure his players are as prepared as possible to
Whether it was finding out more about his path to becoming the varsity coach at
St. Anthony’s or getting his opinion on “The Dream Team” documentary, talking with
Hurley is an experience I will never forget. The opportunity to sit down with a
basketball mind like Bobby Hurley would make any fan feel like its Christmas morning.
I will be hard pressed to find an interview more enjoyable and insightful than that one.
Hurley is a man of tremendous character and basketball acumen and it was very
evident from only a twenty-five minute conversation.