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REBEL WITH A CAUSE
Pete Dexter
December 08, 1986
Jerry Tarkanian, Nevada—Las Vegas's combative basketball coach, won't let the NCAA or any of his other detractors alter his controversial ways
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December 08, 1986

Rebel With A Cause

Jerry Tarkanian, Nevada—Las Vegas's combative basketball coach, won't let the NCAA or any of his other detractors alter his controversial ways

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Tarkanian is out on the freeway again, taking me back to my hotel. "But what I was saying, this is the greatest place in the world. You got super weather, it never rains. You can eat anytime you want to. You can go one way and get to the ocean, the other way you get to the mountains."

The mountains, for the record, are closer than the ocean. Some of them are framed in the window of his office at UNLV. I ask, "What are those mountains called, anyway?"

"Names? I don't know. The Mountains. You should of asked Lois."

"Do you get up there much?"

He shakes his head. "I'm not into sight-seeing. To me, you get a postcard and look at it, you saved yourself some time. Basketball is absolutely the only interest I have. Nothing else. Not golf, not politics, not sight-seeing.

"But what I was saying, this town is unique. Nobody charges each other for nothing. I never get charged, and I never charge anybody. In 14 years, I never charged for an appearance.

"I had coaches tell me that was bad for the profession. I don't care. Yesterday there was some big deal for child abuse. I went there, stayed five hours. I enjoyed it, I learned things. I never turn anybody down if I can help it. Except I won't play golf. I got a philosophy: If it's a charity, I'll go and drink beer, but I won't play.

"I never hired an assistant coach that had a set of golf clubs, either. It just takes too much time. I want us here for our kids. The kids see we care, they play a little harder. They win, and everybody in this town is a booster. Everybody loves the Runnin' Rebs.

"We got tickets cost more than the Lakers'. We get 16,000 people every game. It's a status thing, to have good seats. Some of those tickets, they're $1,300 for the season. I think it's crazy.

"The thing is, though, Las Vegas doesn't have anything else of its own. You know, they got things coming in all the time, the greatest entertainers in the world, but everything else leaves after the show. UNLV is part of the town.

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