Rumor is that John Stockton had big trouble covering Hurley—that, on occasion, Hurley ate him alive. "He's done a nice job, that's all I can tell you." Stockton says curtly.
"That's all I can say," snaps Stockton.
Is it possible, then, that Hurley can be effective in the NBA, that he might even be a...force? "Hell, yes," says assistant coach Lenny Wilkins. "He just looks out of place."
Bolstered by his showing against the world's best, Hurley sits a few days later in the small living room in his family's two-bedroom row house in Jersey City with his mother. Chris; his father; Danny; his 11-year-old sister, Melissa; and his girlfriend, Ana Quinones. a medical student at Tufts University, who has come down from Boston to visit. Outside it is raining, and Jersey City looks like the dark, troubled place it is.
Mayors come and go like weeds here, corruption bubbles steadily, crime and poverty surge. But this is where the Hurleys want to live. A probation officer by day, Bob Hurley was born in Jersey City and has never wanted to commute or get caught up in the suburban rat race. He and Chris, also a Jersey City native, have been married 22 years, during which time Bob has turned down all oilers to work or coach elsewhere. "We thought about buying a vacation home in the Poconos," Bob says. "But then we realized we'd never use it."
And so the Hurleys live in a middle-class enclave, in a narrow house attached to two just like it, in a row of a dozen more that are nearly identical, with the lights of New York City beckoning wanly in the distance. Chris and Bob sleep in one bedroom with the family's two dogs, Duke and Brutus; Melissa and Chris's mother, Hattie, sleep in the other (with Ana sleeping there too, during her visit); and the boys sleep in the basement. Out back is a narrow slice of synthetic-turf-and cement-covered yard with a raised pool so small that it could lit in the back of a pickup truck.
The Hurleys are city people who know the pitfalls of idleness and separation, which is why the parents raised their kids with tough love. Pretty much all Bobby and Danny did was study, cat, sleep and play sports, especially basketball. Bob taught them fundamentals, ran them through drills and played against them in fierce one-on-one games at the nearby courts until they started beating him in their early teens, at which point he quit. After that he paid their bus fare to parks in some of the meanest neighborhoods in town so they could play against the best street ballplayers around. And always he critiqued their games.
"I've been very tough on the boys," Bob acknowledges. "But I tried to keep them out of trouble and build up their competitiveness." And it's not that the boys didn't love basketball. "They wouldn't be the players they are if I were living my life through them," Bob says.
The boys basically agree. "He pushed hard." says Danny, who is now a sophomore point guard at Seton Hall. "But there are boundaries, and my dad never crossed them." Bobby finished second academically in his class at St. Anthony, as did Danny, largely because of prompting from their parents. And because of the discipline Bobby learned at home, he's set to graduate in four years from Duke with a degree in sociology.