Jerry Tarkanian dies at 84
Posted on February 11, 2015
Head basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian of Fresno State University coaches his team during a game at Selland Arena in Fresno, California on November 10, 1995. (Photo by Brad Mangin)
Former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian, who led the Runnin’ Rebels to the 1990 NCAA men’s basketball championship, died Wednesday at age 84. I heard he was sick yesterday, and when I found out this morning that he had died it brought back so many memories of this charismatic coach and the many great players who played for him. Being the son of a longtime high school basketball coach, I grew up following basketball coaches at all levels, especially college. I knew who all of them were by watching games on television. John Wooden. Dean Smith. Al McGuire. Digger Phelps. John Thompson. Lou Carnesecca. Bobby Knight. These were the great coaches of my childhood, and coach Tarkanian was right up there with them.
I did not know about the various scandals that seemed to follow coach Tarkanian around to his various stops in Long Beach, Las Vegas, and Fresno. This was before the Internet so most of the facts were not available to a kid like me growing up in the Bay Area suburbs. All I knew was his teams were fun to watch, and man could they score points!
The pictures you see here in this blog post are from the last time I photographed coach Tarkanian. I was on assignment for Newsweek through my agency Duomo in November of 1995, and coach was back at his Alma mater Fresno State leading the Bulldogs. This was the old days when I needed to shoot strobed slide film, so we worked out a deal with the schools athletic department photographer, a nice young kid named Todd Warshaw, to let me use his lights for the game. Little did I know at the time what an amazing photographer and good friend Todd would become in later years!
Back then the Bulldogs were still playing at old Selland Arena in a bad part of downtown Fresno. I remember staying in a crappy Holiday Inn across the street from the arena that didn’t exactly remind me of a W or Ritz-Carlton. Once I got inside the arena Todd was an amazing help and his strobes worked flawlessly. Tark was a God in Fresno and the local fans were so excited to have the prodigal son back. I remember one of the big side stories was big-time recruit Chris Herren from Falls River, Massachusetts. Harren came to Fresno saddled with many problems after being kicked out of Boston College. He was the classic Tarkanian reclamation project. Herron was not in uniform that night but I shot him with coach in street clothes on the bench.
Tarkanian retired from coaching at Fresno State in 2002, and was inducted in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013. I will never forget that night at Selland Area 20 years ago shooting chrome on strobes and meeting Todd Warshaw, all because of Tark The Shark. RIP coach.