For Dan Hurley, NCAA trip brings memories of brother's wreck
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) Dan Hurley saw the Sacramento sign at the airport and the terrifying memories came flooding back.
Hurley's last visit to California's capital city came in 1993, when big brother Bobby - the former Duke star and then-NBA rookie with the Kings - fought for his life after a frightening car accident that the entire, close-knit basketball family realizes could have been far worse. Even fatal.
Bobby Hurley was lucky. He knows it. His brother knows it.
Now, the Hurleys will reconvene in Northern California in far happier times: Dan Hurley's upstart Rhode Island team is playing in the NCAA Tournament on Friday against Creighton in the Midwest Regional. The 11th-seeded Rams (24-9) are back on college basketball's big stage for the first time in 18 years and riding an eight-game winning streak after capturing the Atlantic 10 tournament title by beating VCU.
Still, that night of Dec. 12, 1993, quickly came to mind for Dan Hurley when the Rams touched down from their cross-country flight at the Sacramento airport this week.
''To see Sacramento on that screen in the airport the other day was emotional. I'm going to keep it together up here, though,'' he said Thursday, fighting emotions. ''Bob will be here, obviously, along with my family that's here and a bunch of people traveling from Jersey City.''
Bobby Hurley is now the head coach at Arizona State. On that night more than 23 years ago, he was just 22 and driving home from Arco Arena on a dark country road shortly after a loss with the Kings and not wearing his seatbelt. The two-car collision sent him flying 100 feet into a ditch. He was fortunate teammate Mike Peplowski happened to be right behind him on the road and rushed to help.
Hurley suffered collapsed lungs, broken ribs, a broken shoulder blade, a compression fracture in the lower back and a soft-tissue back injury.
''I consider myself blessed,'' Hurley said for a story by The Associated Press shortly after his accident. ''I replay the situation a lot. Everything was in place for me to live through it. I was on a dark road that not many people use and yet there was a car 30 seconds ahead of me who saw what happened and was able to come back and find me an ambulance quickly. I was lucky someone was there to help.''
The seventh pick in the '93 NBA draft, the dazzling point guard played in just 19 games that season - all starts. He started only 43 more games in a disappointing NBA career that spanned only parts of six seasons largely because he was never quite the same after the accident.
It rocked him. His family, too. The Hurley boys followed their coaching father, Bob, into the business.
''Emotional for me just because my last time here I was watching my brother cling to his life in a hospital room surrounded by his family,'' Dan Hurley said. ''Just amazing how it's set up that we're now out here. I'm not sure how many times Bob has been out here since, but he will be out here for the game tomorrow.''
For this family of basketball junkies, perhaps a reunion here now might help push the bad memories further into the past.
''Kind of one-track minds there, not well-rounded people, unfortunately,'' Dan Hurley cracked. ''We've even dragged my mom into it. She was the score keeper.''