Jerry Tarkanian Rumors
When Jerry Tarkanian walked into Larry Johnson’s life he was the coach Johnson needed, but quickly became the father he never had. “You’ll hear guys talk all the time about coaches being a father figure. Well I’m 45 years old and I’ve never met my father,” said Johnson, the former Knick. “I consider Jerry Tarkanian my father.”
“I hope people understand that Jerry Tarkanian gave young black males a chance to better themselves and the lives of their families when no one else would,” Johnson told the Daily News on Wednesday. “The way Coach talked to me, he spoke my language. I needed that type of voice in my life. “Let’s face it, we had guys like myself, Anderson Hunt and Moses Scurry that weren’t going to play at Duke. But we had the fortitude and tenacity to want to work and get better. And we had Tark putting his foot in our ass to set us straight. He said things to me that I can’t repeat. But it was something I needed to hear.”
He couldn’t stop fighting the NCAA any more than he could give up chewing towels courtside. Jerry Tarkanian built a basketball dynasty in the desert, but it was his decades-long battle with the NCAA that defined him far more than the wins and losses. The coach who won a national title at UNLV and made the school synonymous with basketball died Wednesday after several years of health issues. He was 84.
Naismith Hall of Fame basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, who led three schools to the NCAA tournament, is hospitalized in Las Vegas with breathing trouble and some type of infection. A son-in-law, Dr. Zafi Diamant, said Tuesday that the 84-year-old Tarkanian remained in very critical condition with the respiratory ailment and infection, with family members at his side.