Duke Legend Bobby Hurley Talks Blue Devils' Title Run, Carmelo Anthony, Family
Bobby Hurley is a college basketball legend, having led Duke to back-to-back NCAA titles in 1991 and 1992. After becoming a two-time national champion, Hurley went on to play five NBA seasons, almost exclusively with the Sacramento Kings. Nevertheless, he, just like anyone else, has had tremendous ups and downs throughout his life and career. That's why Hurley and his family have teamed up with Dove Men & Care for its "Journey to Comfort" campaign during this year's NCAA tournament.
With a new group of Blue Devils again focused on that remarkable feat of repeating as champions, Hurley took time to talk about this year's team, his family, the campaign, his own experiences at Duke and the next step in his career.
Like everyone else has seemed to this season, Bobby also weighed in on the "Big Three" in Miami, and whether or not seeking a trade to the Knicks was the right move for Carmelo Anthony. Read on below to see why he says the most recent times have perhaps served as his journey back to comfort.
Q: Bobby, talk to me about Dove Men & Care's "Journey to Comfort" campaign, and how you and your family came to get involved in it.
A: We were contacted by Dove Men's Product Line to get involved in an NCAA tournament promotion. We like what the company stands for in terms of being family oriented. I personally like the products--I use them. I've had some problems with dry skin, especially in the winter time. The body wash has been very helpful in that regard, so it just made sense to get involved. It gives me an opportunity to talk about my "Journey to Comfort". I'm in a really good place right now with my family and my life off the court--my association with my dad and the opportunity to coach with my brother.
Q: You obviously have solid family values. What kind of influence has your family played in your career? I know your father and brother are currently involved in basketball as well.
A: We grew up in a basketball family, so that was a big part of my childhood. I was around my dad a lot and went to his practices and games. I was able to learn the game at a young age by being around him. All the time he put in with me definitely attributed to my success at Duke and the chance to play in the NBA. My brother, Dan, as Head Coach at Wagner, gave me the opportunity to share my knowledge with the players. The chance to coach at Wagner has helped me stay close to my kids by keeping them in the setting where I am coaching, especially my young son, who loves sports. It's been really enjoyable.
Q: The last time Duke won back to back titles, you led the way. Does a team need to have a different mentality when looking to repeat?
A: Each season is a journey, just like our 'Journey to Comfort' here at Dove. Each year has its own group. That’s what Coach K talks about, not necessarily defending something, but just trying to win something else with the group you have there.
Obviously the injury to Kyrie Irving set them back a little bit in the beginning, but Duke has got guys that have been to the big stage, and know how to win it all because they've obviously done it before. I think they'll be right in the hunt.
Q: What are going to be the keys to Duke winning the whole thing this year?
A: If they can bottle up the success they had last weekend and play with that same type of effort, they're going to put themselves in great shape. They look like a team that was focused and really found themselves. Nolan Smith did a phenomenal job running the pick and roll and creating offense. Then they have the Plumlee brothers really defending well and rebounding—those will be the keys to winning.
Q: What are your thoughts of Kyrie Irving returning from his injury to play in the tournament?
A: I personally haven't spoken to anyone, but if he’s able to come back, that only will enhance Duke’s chances. It will be interesting to see how productive he can be and how much time he’ll be able to be out on the floor. It's difficult for someone to bounce back to full strength after missing so many months. You’ve got to think, though, that if he’s practicing out in front of the media, he’s personally pointing to being back out there.”
Q: While at Duke, you had the chance to win big as you teamed up with the likes of Grant Hill and Christian Laettner, forming a "Big Three" of sorts. What do you think of these NBA superstars looking to join forces on the court? Can you relate?
A: There is definitely something to be said about that. We had a chance to grow up together. We developed something special and formed great chemistry. When we played together on the court, we had an idea of where and how we could be successful. We were able to help each other improve, and I think that's what good teams do. We have seen Boston (Pierce, Garnett, and Allen) and Miami (Wade, LeBron, and Bosh) do it. I think players are realizing when you have better players around, you can make the team that much better.
I think what you are seeing is guys realizing the value of winning. There is nothing that can really replace that. Once you get to a certain point in your career and you have achieved a certain amount of individual success, to finally be recognized as a great player, you have to win big and you have to win championships. That's why other players are now willing to move and talk with others about putting something together where they will have an opportunity to win the whole thing. I was lucky enough to experience that on a college level. A guy like Carmelo is a national champion, so he understands.
Q: So even with the Knicks' mediocre start since the Carmelo Anthony trade, you still think New York was the right move for him?
A: I think so. That's what was in his heart and obviously is what he wanted to do. He had some really great years in Denver, but the Nuggets never really got over the hump in the West. He needed a change of scenery and wanted the big stage in New York. I think he's the type of player that can handle that and has also put himself in a position where he's got teammates he can count on that are at his level, like Amar'e Stoudemire. They should be a very formidable duo.
It's all about the chemistry and how quickly it can be formed. I think that's something that's always overlooked. It something that Miami is still searching for with all the talent they have. It's one thing to have all that talent on a team, but how quickly you can mesh their talents and have them understand how to play together and be effective is another. I'm not sure the Knicks are ready to win big this year, but they certainly have a lot of the right pieces and should be heard from within the next couple of years in the East.
Q: You mentioned that you are an assistant basketball coach to your brother Dan at Wagner College. Your team saw an eight-win improvement from last season, the greatest improvement among first year coaching staffs. You guys must be pleased so far, right?
A: The players and our fan base are very excited Last season, they were accustomed to losing but this year we have definitely given them a taste of winning. We have played high level competition and stayed very competitive. We have started to bring our own recruits in, and want this group of guys to eventually experience an NCAA tournament bid, so that's what we're trying to do.
Dan has done a great job. There were forty plus new coaches in the league, and he had the best turn around out of any of them. It's a testimony to what we did in the pre-season and how Dan changed the culture. Our players were asked to play as hard as they could, and they did that. We established the way we wanted to play moving forward. Now it's just a point of continuing to recruit well and bring in new talent, and I think we'll get to where we want to be with Wagner.
Q: Wagner had quite a few freshmen on its team this past season. As you continue to recruit, like you said, what are some ways the coaching staff helps incoming freshmen adapt to the college level coming from high school?
A: With freshman, it's going to be a bit of a roller coaster. We are prepared for that, and understand they will have their ups and downs. We just want them to work every day to get better. We don't what them to get too discouraged or too high on themselves--we want to keep them as even keeled as possible. Starting freshmen is tough, but the future is bright when you realize they will be in your program for the next few years.
Q: You had the unique opportunity to learn from two of the best basketball coaches of all time, your father and Coach K. What makes them both so great?
A: Each of them has passion for what they do. My dad just loves being with the kids in the gym teaching the game. He wants to be successful. Those same things hold true for Coach K; he's got the passion and looks to help the lives of the kids he coaches. He loves to win.
Q: We talked about you and Grant Hill being teammates at Duke. Having faced adversity and difficult injuries during your playing career, what do you have to say about Hill's own perseverance through his own tribulations, and longevity in the NBA thus far?
A: I'm really shocked every time I watch him play, and sometimes I even feel bad! I just can't believe that this is a guy that I played with, having endured the '82 game NBA season, and knowing how my body felt as a 22 year old. it's a true testimony to not only how many miles he's put on his legs, but how well he has taken care of himself. I am truly in amazement that he is still out there doing it on this level.
For more on Bobby's "Journey to Comfort," as well as Magic Johnson and John Thompson's own journeys, click here.
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