Perhaps the most popular name in amateur basketball isn’t even playing right now.
That would be LaVar Ball, the father of UCLA freshman phenom Lonzo as well as Chino Hills (Calif.) standouts LiAngelo and LaMelo. LaVar Ball seems to be saying something publicly on a daily basis that calls attention to both him and his family, the latest being his back-and-forth with LeBron James.
Another basketball name that carries its share of weight is Bob Hurley, the legendary boys basketball coach at St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.). Like Ball, Hurley raised sons who had basketball talent, coaching them in high school.
Bobby went on to star at Duke, was an NBA lottery pick and is now the head coach at Arizona State. Danny was a standout at Seton Hall and now is the head coach at the University of Rhode Island.
On Wednesday, Hurley sat down with Sports Illustrated’s Maggie Gray as part of “SI Now.” Gray asked Hurley if he thinks Ball’s kids will start feeling the pressure from their dad’s comments, and Hurley didn’t hold back.
“The kids say that this is the way they’ve grown up, that this has been going on all the time. But I would just feel bad if this is the way they’ve grown up,” Hurley told Gray. “Every once in a while, you want to get off the basketball and you just want to say something about something removed from basketball. It’s way too much building up these comparisons.
“I don’t know how many friendships you can have when you’re comparing your children to the icons in the sport. They can’t come out looking good in those and they’ve got to feel the pressures of the statements their father’s made, regardless of what the kids say.”
Hurley is certainly one with the perspective and the credentials to speak about a father’s relationship with his sons as it relates to basketball. He is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
The Balls aren’t going anywhere, and neither are their patriarch’s bold proclamations. It is helpful and refreshing, though, to hear from a legend of the game like Hurley who has seen a thing or two.
In the interview Hurley also touched on the uncertain future of St. Anthony’s. According to Gray, the school needs nearly $200,000 by April 5 to stay open.
“It’s just the nature of the tuition we charge for the kids that come to our school and what it costs to educate the kids, there’s a gap of almost 8,000 per kid,” Hurley said. “So on a yearly basis you’re raising that gap. So, you know, if it’s 200 kids, you’re looking at $1.6 million. And we don’t have, like in bigger private schools, we don’t have an endowment. We’re a little school, so we’re year by year. So once we’ve finished raising money for one year, we’re back to work again.
“As a coach, I’ve always felt the kids that I’ve been working have always been were worth it, but I became the president of the school three years ago. So now I deal with all the kids at school. And you find out so many more stories and how the kids really need the education they’re getting. We’ve had 100 percent college acceptance by all of our students for about 20 years in a row. So the work that’s done is great, and you’d like to sustain it, but you understand that maybe you can’t do it forever. So we’ll continue to battle and we hope that people that identify with either a catholic education or the plight of kids in the inner-city, and people show interest.”
Gray then asked him what would be missing from the basketball and Jersey City communities were St. Anthony’s to close.
“In the town, as cities have their ups and downs with crime and politics and unemployment, all kinds of adult problems,” Hurley said. “Year in and year out, you’ll have 50 or 60 kids who graduate from school, and they’ll be heading off into college and the majority of them graduate from college and come back into the town. And most of the kids are not moving away from Jersey City. They’re coming back, they’re helping their families, they’re giving back to our school however they can. It’s a good moment to see what happens to them, and that would be lost. Because you’d lose this little school atmosphere that the kids are comfortable in.”
You can see the entire video here, with the Hurley interview beginning at the 9:50 mark.