Bob Hurley recounts lessons learned from four decades of coaching basketball that go far beyond the sport in his new memoir, Chasing Perfect.In the same way Mozart could crank out a note or two, Bob Hurley knows a thing or two about basketball. During his 40 years as head basketball coach at St. Anthony High School in Jersey City, N.J., this four-time USA Today national Coach of the Year has racked up more than 1,000 wins, seven undefeated seasons, 27 state championships and four national championships.
Hurley has teamed with writer Daniel Paisner to share the story behind his remarkable record in his new memoir, Chasing Perfect: The Will to Win in Basketball and Life (Crown Archetype, $26). He shared with American Way a few pages from his playbook for success, on and off the court.
1. The manner in which you win is just as important as whether you win at all.
During Hurley’s first year as head coach, his team won the state championship. But the win was sloppy, and his team didn’t play to its full potential. The lesson learned — don’t just play; play your best — set the tone for the four decades that followed. “We are not going to conduct ourselves poorly,” Hurley says. “We play as hard as we can within the rules. When the game’s over, we talk it over, and the next day we work on being even better at what we do.”
2. A well-thought-out timeout can make a huge difference.
Hurley broke an opposing team’s momentum with a perfectly timed timeout during a crucial game in his 2007-2008 perfect season. “You have to understand what you’re using the break for,” Hurley says. “What are you trying to accomplish?” Ditto for any day off, sabbatical or midlife crisis, er, evaluation. “Take a breath,” Hurley says. “Sit down. Analyze where you are. Formulate a plan and go back out there.”
3. You can’t teach a love of the game.
“The one thing we’re looking at when a kid first begins this sport is his passion, his enthusiasm for the game,” Hurley says. “More times than not, success comes from an ordinary person with an extraordinary desire to be successful more than a person with talent who doesn’t know what to do with it.”