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Honoring a Vegas Hero


When I was a young girl, my family and I used to frequent Las Vegas as a vacation destination. Ever since I could remember – I loved basketball and even in my youth I knew hoops history. Naturally, part of my attraction when coming to Las Vegas was seeing the Thomas & Mack center; home of the Runnin’ Rebels.

When I made my move in 2007 to attend UNLV, there was a sense of fulfillment. I had enrolled at a college that had been a dominant basketball dynasty. A program in my eyes that was very successful and respected. An empire built by Jerry Tarkanian. Attending UNLV, I got to absorb the glory that had been developed there. I was attending games, learning the chants and making myself an official Rebel. 

I got a job as a sports reporter for the Rebel Yell school paper; was attending a luncheon for UNLV alumni. I got there super early and found a seat in the back. Shortly after, people began to file in. I can’t remember exactly how it happened but Coach Tarkanian took a seat beside mine. It was like a movie. He asked me who I was and when I replied I was a journalist for the college paper he introduced himself. I was in a complete dream state and lost for words. It’s still blurry because my heart was pounding and I never get star struck but I was so nervous that I snuck away to text James what was going on. I stood in the back of the room until the ceremony was over. And as I stood by myself, one of the first times since moving, I didn’t miss Texas.

Fast forward to last week; I heard of Coach’s passing, and my heart dropped. The iconic Coach Shark was responsible for putting Las Vegas hoops on the map undoubtedly and deserves an honoring gesture.

In an effort led by Tony Cordasco and Scott Gulbransen, there is a campaign named #DimLights4Tark to help with this. Participating casinos that usually have their beaming lights on will be dim momentarily to honor Tarkanian. The time is set today at 10:30 p.m., after the finish of UNLV’s home game against Boise State.

I couldn’t be more proud of being a Las Vegan today. A day that we are recognizing our local hero “Tark the Shark,” who was an embodiment of the spirit of this city. A true pioneer for basketball culture and has left his love of the game to resonate in all of our hearts.