Wednesday, February 11, 2015

RIP Tark The Shark

Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Valley as one of the true gods of Vegas has died.
From The LVRJ:
Jerry Tarkanian loved a good fight.
It could be on the basketball court matching wits head-to-head against Bob Knight, Mike Krzyzewski, Lute Olson or John Thompson. Or it could be in a courtroom taking on the NCAA with a boatload of lawyers in tow.
Tarkanian wasn’t the type to back down, and he always scrapped and fought. Even when his health failed him in the latter years of his remarkable life, he showed a willingness to fight in a hospital intensive care unit.
Tarkanian, the iconic towel-chomping coach who put UNLV on the map as a national college basketball power and repeatedly clashed with the NCAA during his career, died Wednesday morning at Valley Hospital Medical Center.
He was 84.
Tarkanian, a 2013 inductee into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., had been recovering from a nearly monthlong stay in the hospital and was getting his strength back, according to his wife, Lois.
On Sunday, he was home, resting, watching basketball on TV and even making plans to attend Tuesday night’s Fresno State-UNLV game at the Thomas & Mack Center.
But on Monday morning, Tarkanian began having trouble breathing. His blood pressure had dropped to a dangerous level, and he was rushed to Valley, where doctors had managed to keep him alive in previous visits. He was unresponsive throughout the day in the intensive care unit and into the early evening until doctors were able to get his blood pressure elevated.
He suffered a setback in the early morning hours Tuesday and was in critical condition. Reports surfaced in the afternoon that he had been administered his last rites, though the family would not confirm that.
Tarkanian coached 31 years on the Division I level at Long Beach State, UNLV and Fresno State and finished his career with a 784-202 record. In his 19-year run with UNLV, from 1973 to 1992, Tarkanian went 509-105 for an .829 winning percentage. He took the Rebels to the Final Four four times, winning the NCAA title in 1990, the only one the program has ever won.
“He was like a second father to me,” former UNLV star Larry Johnson said in 2013 when Tarkanian was inducted into the Hall of Fame. “I loved that man.”
Greg Anthony, Johnson’s teammate from 1989 to 1991, echoed similar comments at the induction, saying: “Some of us didn’t have fathers. But Coach Tarkanian’s door was always open. You could talk to him about anything.”
I'll be the first one to admit I wasn't a fan of his growing up, however since I moved to Las Vegas, I began to appreciate what the man did and what others who followed him, could not do.
Tarkanian showed people that there is more in Las Vegas than casinos, hookers and drunks.  He showed that there is a college (granted, it is a glorified community college, then and now) and that life existed beyond the strip and downtown.
So, RIP, Tark and thanks for the memories.

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