Jerry Tarkanian was known as one of the most successful coaches of college basketball teams in the US. Over the years of his coaching career, he won 706 and lost 198 games. He achieved his biggest success while coaching the team of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), reaching the Final Four four times and winning an NCAA championship once.
In 1992, Tarkanian coached San-Antonio Spurs, though he would be fired after 20 games due to the disagreements between him and the club’s management. Such basketball players as Larry Johnson, Armen Gilliam, and Stacey Augmon were coached by Tarkanian.
In 2013, Tarkanian was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He enjoyed such popularity that American author Stephen King named the protagonist of his “The Fifth Quarter” in honor of Tarkanian. In fact, many Americans dreamed of meeting this legendary coach.
Tarkanian was known for his unusual habit of biting a towel during the games of his team, trying to soothe himself. He was even called “Tower biter” in the American media. However, Tarkanian was much more known under the nickname “Tark the Shark” for his colorful behavior.
The parents of Tarkanian were born in Malatia, Western Armenia. They met each other in Lebanon after escaping the Armenian Genocide, where they got married and then migrated to the US, settling in the city of Euclid, Ohio.
Jerry was born in Euclid on August 8, 1930. He lost his father at the age of 13. By the time, he had already demonstrated his talent of a basketball player, participating in an NCAA cup in the team Fresno State Bulldogs. Tarkanian would coach this team after being fired from San Antonio Spurs in 1995 – 2002.
“The realization that I am helping young athletes enter the sport has always been important to me. Other coaches prefer to work with experienced players and to earn millions with them. I myself created basketball players. It is an appreciative mission. It is pleasant to realize that hundreds of brilliant players now call me their teacher,” said Tarkanian.
Tarkanian started a school in Las Vegas named “The Tarkanian Basketball Academy”, which is now run by his eldest son Danny. Tarkanian’s autobiography “Runnin’ Rebel: Shark Tales of “Extra Benefits”, Frank Sinatra and Winning it All” was published in October 2005 and instantly became a hit. In the same year, Tarkanian paid a visit to his homeland, Armenia, spending 16 wonderful days in the country.
Jerry Tarkanian passed away on February 11, 2015, in a hospital in Las Vegas. The City Hall pulled down their flags in the memory of the coach. And his son Danny Tarkanian posted on his Twitter account: “Coach Tark, my father, the best person I have ever known, passed away today. I will miss him for the rest of my days.”
by Vadim Mkrchyan