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Bob Hurley: One Man, One Mission

Danny Flynn@FlynnceptionSenior Analyst IApril 9, 2010

Every basketball head coach has their reasons for doing it.

Some do it for the accolades, some do it for the money and some simply do it for the love of the game.

Bob Hurley does it for one reason—his players.

Whether it be coaching his sons, Danny and Bobby Jr., or the new freshman from the Greenville projects, it doesn’t matter to Hurley.

He only sees one thing.

Hurley sees a young boy waiting to be molded into a man. He sees the opportunity to instill a value system into his kids and show them what it takes to succeed in life. He sees a chance to guide his players down the right path in life.

Coach Hurley is the father figure to his players not because he wants to be, but because he has to be.

Often times, his players have no one else to turn to in life, so Hurley serves as their guardian, teacher and coach all rolled into one.

He does all this because the simple fact is—it’s rough out there.

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St. Anthony’s is not your typical catholic school. There is no glitz, there is no glamour, there are no wealthy alumni making big donations every year. The old brick building in the heart of Jersey City can be summed up by one word.

Struggle.

It’s defined by the struggle of its students coming up in neighborhoods infested with pitfalls at every turn. It’s defined by the struggle of the school itself, which faces major financial crises and the threat of closing on an almost yearly basis.

And somehow, out of all of this struggle, one little basketball team has been able to persevere and become a national power.

Yes, the Saint Anthony Friars have become the class of New Jersey high school basketball, and that success can be attributed to the hard work and resolve of one single man, Bob Hurley.

Hurley takes the mean streets mentality of Jersey City, harnesses it, and uses it to bring out the best in his players.

You would be hard-pressed to find a team that plays with more intensity and passion, and one that plays more together as a unit than St. Anthony’s does. The reason for that is you may not find another basketball coach in the country, regardless of the level, that's as demanding as Hurley.

His practices can be downright grueling at times, and the break you down to build you up philosophy he employs can crack even the most hardened of kids.

There are no punches to be pulled in his gym. It’s Hurley’s way or the highway. If you're looking for discipline, look no further then a St. Anthony’s practice.

Hurley has always stressed team-first basketball. There are no superstars. The flashy dunks and high-scoring is supplanted with tough man-to-man defense and a grind it out style of play.

No one player is bigger than the team. It's always been five playing as one, and it always will be.

Five fingers coming together to create a fist. And it sure is one mighty fist.

One that has been knocking out opponents for the better part of three decades now.

Since Hurley started at the school almost forty years ago, his Friars teams have amassed a mind-numbing 984 wins, 24 state championships and nine Tournament of Champions crowns.

More important than that, they gained a mentality and an edge throughout that time. The coach has created a culture around his team that no matter what life deals you, anything can be overcome with hard work and determination.

Because at St. Anthony's nothing comes easy. It's a reflection of the city itself. If you don’t have determination to survive in Jersey City, the streets can eat you alive.

The students are faced with the realities of drugs, crime and violence on a nearly daily basis. At times, the school can be the only safe haven in their lives.

And without Bob Hurley, that safe haven probably wouldn’t exist.

Without Hurley and his team, there would be no publicity and there would be no donations.

Without Hurley and his team, the doors of the old brown building would all but certainly be closed for good.

That’s why it doesn’t need to be asked why Hurley never left to take a big time coaching gig at a school like St. Johns, or one of the many others that showed interest. The proof is evident—this school needs him.

It is for that reason that Coach Hurley is fully deserving of his recent nomination for the basketball Hall of Fame.

To judge and measure a man of his character by wins and championships would be futile. His accomplishments on the court pale in comparison to the difference he's mad in countless lives over the years.

Considering he is one of the best coaches to ever put a whistle around his neck, that's certainly saying something.

The number of championships Hurley has won can't come close to matching the number of kids he's gotten into college. For every basketball drill he's scribbled on a piece of notebook paper, there have been about ten times as many donors scribbling out checks to help keep the school open because of his team.

Hurley's induction couldn't come at a more fitting time.

As the coach prepares to win his 1,000th game this season, he finally has the opportunity to have the distinction of hall of famer next to his name. It's a vindication and reward for a lifelong career of helping others.

As we look back on Hurley and St. Anthony's tremendous past, it can't help but remind us of the future. The future that Hurley has helped provide the youth of a community in desperate need of hope.

Hurley will get a nice banner for his 1,000th win, but he will also get the satisfaction of seeing another senior class make it into college. And you can bet that the latter is much more important to him.

It's that which truly makes Bob Hurley a Hall of Fame coach and a Hall of Fame human being.

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