Las Vegas, Nevada. Sin City. The place where anything goes and people are not afraid to try. In a city of tourists and traveling shows, there is little for Vegas citizens to hold on to as their own. But from 1973 to 1992, the Runnin’ Rebels men’s basketball team of UNLV gave the natives of Las Vegas something to be passionate about, and embodied the notion that winning and winning big was all that mattered.
At the center of the story is the legendary yet controversial Coach Jerry Tarkanian. "Tark the Shark" as many called him, took a team at a tiny university and built them into one of the most powerful teams to ever compete in the NCAA.
NCAA rules violations and moral dilemmas surrounded the program throughout Tark’s tenure. The league consistently investigated the coach and his team and ultimately were responsible for his forced resignation in 1992.
The "Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV" HBO documentary, which is part of the Legends & Legacies series, digs into the details of the investigations and all of the excitement of UNLV basketball throughout Tark’s stay in Sin City.
Tarkanian was known for filling his rosters with badly educated youngsters and those who had made mistakes earlier in life. Some viewed the coach as a facilitator to rebellion while others saw him as a man that gave opportunity to those who were generally overlooked. Regardless of your opinion, there is no arguing that Tark knew how to organize greatness.
"Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV" premiers on HBO Saturday, March 12th at 9:30 PM ET/PT. It will replay throughout the month of March and be available on HBO On Demand March 14-April 11.
In the words of Las Vegas historian Dr. Mike Green, "Las Vegas was and still is a frontier city, where the rules are still being written or haven’t been written. We are a run-and-gun kind of town. A town where things were legal that weren’t legal elsewhere. So when ou looked at the basketball program, this is part of our image. I was a perfect match and a perfect storm."