Monday, April 6, 2009

Star Ledger: Bias Kept Hurley Out of Hall of Fame

Photo: William Perlman/The Star-Ledger

HHR has a deep appreciation for the contributions long-time St. Anthony HS coach Bob Hurley has made to the sport of basketball. Hurley has 950-plus wins, 24 state championships, 90 percent winning percentage, has had over 100 former players receive D1 scholarships and had five taken in the NBA draft's first-round NBA.

Today, when one of the most star-studded classes for the Naismith Hall of Fame was announced, Hurley's name was not among those to be enshrined this fall.

I've written before (in regards to Yahoo columnist Adrian Wojnarowski's The Miracle of St. Anthony: A Season with Coach Bob Hurley and Basketball's Most Improbable Dynasty): "It transcends sports and takes a look at the struggles and hardships of a community where little is offered in terms of advancement outside of athletic success...What Bob Hurley does, not just for his team and its players, but for the school itself, is nothing short of, appropriately, a miracle. The man is a saint."

Upon learning of the Hurley Hall omission, The Star Ledger's by Steve Politi takes the argument further (with help from former St. Anthony's standout and NBAer Terry Dehere):

David Robinson was a great NBA player. How many high schools did he single-handedly keep from shutting down? How many teenagers did he help get a college scholarship?

How many lives did he shape?

"Michael Jordan is one person," Terry Dehere, one of Hurley's best players, said by phone Friday. "I don't know if Michael Jordan had a role in getting over 200 kids into college. He never had to be part psychologist, part father, part protector to all those kids for four years.

"Coach Hurley is the type of person in our community that we should put on a pedestal. Hitting jump shots is great, but what we should also value is the quality of a person's character."

Of the 81 coaches currently in the Hall, only two are high school coaches, Morgan Wootten of DeMatha High (Maryland) and Bertha Teague of Byng High (Oklahoma).

Politi thinks he knows why: "The 24-person-selection committee, according to three people familiar with the process who are forbidden to talk about it publicly, is loaded with officials and coaches with ties to the NBA who fail to see that borders of basketball extend beyond the 20,000-seat arenas and million-dollar contracts."

As North Carolina coach Roy Williams put it after his press conference Friday, "Bob Hurley is a Hall of Famer -- period. It's going to happen. It's just a matter of when."

Without Bob Hurley Sr., it's a Hall of Shame.

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