Catching Up With Bobby Hurley

<I></I>'s Dave Dixon caught up with former All-American Duke point guard Bobby Hurley while he was on a quick get away in Florida with his wife and children before heading back to New Jersey to focus his attention on his new job with the Philadelphia 76ers in player personnel as a talent scout. Hurley will be working from his home for the 76ers and traveling to scout talent.

Bobby, it has been ten years since you suited up for Duke, can you give us a run down of what you have been up to since?

After leaving Duke I played five seasons in the NBA. I was involved in a car accident my rookie season and played three and a half seasons after that. I was with Sacramento and Vancouver in the NBA. In 1998 I got involved with thoroughbred horse racing and have been doing that since. About a year ago I got a real itch to get back involved with basketball, and I have been pursuing opportunities in basketball since then. I just got hired as a talent scout for the Philadelphia 76ers and have just started that job.

How did you get involved in thoroughbred horseracing and how many horses are you currently involved with?

The main thing that drew me to thoroughbred racing was the competitiveness involved in it and the adrenaline rush that comes from it. The number of horses I have frequently fluctuates but I have about 15 right now. I am involved in breeding horses as well as racing of them.

How does the feeling of being a thoroughbred horse owner compare with the competitiveness you experienced with basketball?

There is definitely a lot of competitiveness involved with the horses. However, there is an element of control that is lost in horse racing. Hopefully, working with the 76ers will help fill the void too.

What has been your biggest success thus far with horse racing?

My horse Song And A Prayer was in the Kentucky Derby a few years ago and set a record for the fastest mile time in the history of the Derby. He did not win but he led almost the entire race. He had lots of wins along the way to making the Kentucky Derby. He is now out to stud in Florida.

Can you tell us about your off the court and track life?

I am happily married and with three children now. I have two daughters that are five and seven and a two month old son. We live in New Jersey where I am originally from.

What aspect of playing for Duke outside of your tremendous accomplishments was the most fulfilling and allowed you the most growth to carry forward?

Being around the people that I was around at Duke helped me grow tremendously. Coach K and the other coaches were excellent in helping me develop inner strength. I was constantly pushed to get better and develop as a player and a person. Those lessons especially helped me after my accident. My teammates also helped push me to constantly be a better player and person.

Hurley at Duke
There have been a lot of parallels drawn between your accident and Jay Williams accident. Have you been in touch with Jay and what was your take on what happened?

I had a phone conversation with Jay after his accident and I wrote him a letter as well. When I was back at Duke for Coach K's Academy I was able to speak with him briefly there as well. It was very negative for me to see him go through that and seeing what happened to him stirred up emotions and feelings I have not felt since I had my own accident. My heart goes out to him because I know exactly what he is up against. I have known Jay since he was very young because he is a New Jersey kid like me. My letter to him detailed what I went through after my accident and I hope it helps him. His accident was very upsetting to me.

What is your brother Danny up to these days?

Danny is a prep school basketball coach here in New Jersey at St. Benedicts. He has an excellent program that won the New Jersey Prep School Championship this past season. As a matter of fact, they beat Blair Academy in the State tournament who as you know had two players on that team that are now on Duke, Luol Deng and Patrick Davidson.

You mentioned you had been itching to get back into basketball, can you expand on that and also tell us if you desire to be a coach or head coach at some point?

Coaching and teaching basketball comes naturally to me. It is how I am made. When I am at the gym watching or playing basketball, no matter what level it is, I see a play unfold, I analyze it, and I know what everyone involved in the play is doing. I would love to be a coach down the road, but for now I am taking my job with the 76ers very seriously. I want to do the very best I can in this position and see where it goes from there.

Are you, like many athletes, a big golfer?

I enjoy recreational golf just for fun with my friends when I get the chance to play.

What bands or musical artists do you like? What is in your cd player right now?

(laughs) Honestly Hillary Duff is in my cd player right now for my daughters. They like her. I enjoy Bruce Springsteen since he is a New Jersey guy. Generally speaking I'm not too much of a music fan though. I was never one of those guys who had headphones on all the time. I am into rap a little bit.

Are you able to stay in contact with your former teammates on a regular basis?

I have sporadic contact with a lot of them. I recently talked to Kenny Blakeny who is now an Assistant Coach at the University of Delaware. Kenny was my roommate at Duke for one year. I talk to a lot of them here and there. Grant Hill and Christian Laettner recently made very nice donations to my high school alma mater St. Anthony's in Jersey City, NJ because it was close to going under financially so I was in contact with them a lot when that occurred.

In reading some of Coach K's books I got the impression that Laettner really pushed you hard to be a better player and at times fired people up with his antics. Yet after the 1992 National Championship win he went out of his way on national television to say how proud he was of you. What was it like playing with him and how did he help you become a better player and person?

Christian never praised anyone too often so I knew that meant a lot when he did. Everyone pushed each other on that team. Christian's way of motivating people helped me get fired up. I also watched how hard he worked and that was inspiring. He was the best player on our team and he would still get to practice early to work on his game and stay after practice and work on his game. He worked harder than anyone else and he was already the best. We really picked each other up all the time that year.

What is your relationship with Coach K like now?

I try to stay in touch with Coach K on a regular basis. I do my best to always watch them in season. He is always interested in how my family and kids are doing

Do you ever make it to games?

Duke is such a national team that they usually have a few games each season that I can attend that are usually logistically close to where I live. It was awesome to be back at Duke for Coach K's Academy and to see everyone there. Everyone is so busy that it is difficult to get everyone together, but we were able to do it then and it was great.

Aside from Duke University, is there anything about the state of North Carolina that you miss?

The pace in North Carolina is good. North Carolina would be a great place to live and if it was not for my family and friends in New Jersey and the fact that I grew up here, I might have lived in North Carolina. It would have been my second choice. I also miss the barbeque a lot.

I've got to come clean with you on that. I am from Chicago and I have lived in North Carolina for 15 months now and I have not warmed up to barbeque yet. I just do not understand it.

(laughs) The first time I had barbeque in North Carolina was part of a team meal. Someone said to me "We are going to have barbeque." And I said "Barbeque what? Ribs?" You must not be eating barbeque from the right place in North Carolina if you do not like it. Try that place on Hillandale in Durham.

* Bobby Hurley was unable to comment on Duke's upcoming season and individual players. The nature of his new position with the 76ers and his position with player personnel forbids him to comment on any players.

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