Today, with March Madness in progress, we remember legendary, former UNLV college basketball coach and past CYInterview guest Jerry Tarkanian. In 1990, he led the UNLV Rebels to the National Championship. His team defeated Duke in the finals by a score of 103-73. Coach Tarkanian died in 2015. He was 84 years old.
As far as championships and sports moments for the City of Las Vegas, UNLV’s capturing of the National Championship is the biggest athletic achievement of this city to date. In 2006, the coach told us about that UNLV National Championship team saying:
“We had great players and nobody played harder than we did. Nobody practiced harder than we did. Nobody worked harder than we did. Nobody played defense anywhere near what we did. Those were the reasons why we won. We scored a lot of points and a lot of media that don’t understand basketball, not well, never really figure it out. I think if you ask coaches around the country, they’ll all tell you that our strength was our defense. We were a great, great defensive team.”
Coach Tarkanian was also known in the sports world for chewing on towels during games. He shared with us why he did that:
“It was a superstition that started in high school. I won my first championship so I just kept doing it. It was more superstition than anything else.”
Jerry Tarkanian’s coaching record was 988 wins and 288 loses in his storied career. More than 30 years later, people still talk about him around town. He is a legend in Las Vegas and beyond.
Enjoy March Madness and have a great upcoming weekend.
You can see our full CYInterview with Jerry Tarkanian by clicking here.