GMG - Las Vegas Weekly

September 12, 2013

Las Vegas Weekly

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AsWeSeeIt OPINION + POLITICS + HUMOR + STYLE OUR LEGEND ∑ Jerry Tarkanian arrived with the help of a rolling walker for his long-overdue induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sunday. The steep stairs were dressed with a red carpet, but the UNLV coaching legend, who built a powerhouse program in the Las Vegas desert and overcame plenty of adversity in guiding the Rebels to four Final Four appearances, wouldn't be denied in the last steps to take his place alongside the sport's other greats. He ditched the walker and, with the help of two grandsons, gingerly made his way up those stairs. Dressed sharply in a black suit with a white shirt and black tie, the 83-year-old coach showed he still has some fight. "Coach is a gamer. Just like his coaching career when he rose to every occasion, that was true today," said UNLV coach Dave Rice, who joined Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon and Reggie Theus as former Rebels in attendance. While the Hall of Fame class included NBA great Gary Payton, Louisville coach Rick Pitino and New York Knicks legend Bernard King, Tarkanian was the main attraction. Everywhere he went in three days of induction events, he was revered and praised for his contributions. Sure, it would have been great to hear Tarkanian deliver a speech in his trademark rasp, but the weekend still proved special. Tarkanian's speech was taped, and the four-minute video started with Lois, his wife of nearly 60 years, reading a statement by her husband. He was the son of poor Armenian immigrants and urged by his stepfather to become a barber, she read. But basketball was his true calling, and he used that passion to transform Las Vegas into a college basketball town. Tark's Rebels played suffocating defense and used a fast-break offense. Tickets to a UNLV home game were impossible to come by in those days. UNLV's 30-point margin of victory against Duke in the 1990 national championship game under Tark is still the most lopsided margin of victory in title-game history, and Tarkanian won 80 percent of his games, which ranks in the top five all-time. "I loved the game of basketball since my early memories," Tarkanian said in his recorded speech. "Basketball has been good to me. I have been able to be comrades with some fine individuals in the coaching profession." Seconds later, the godfather of UNLV basketball was up, walking across the stage with the help of a walker. The crowd rose to its feet and started to clap. The applause lasted nearly two minutes. –Ray Brewer RUNNING OUT OF ROOM(S) Poker space is getting scarce in Vegas. What gives? ∑ In recent years the poker rooms at Gold Coast, Tuscany and Fitzgeralds (now the D) have all closed. Last month, the M Resort closed its 14-table room. Most recently Circus Circus closed its five-table poker room. What the heck is going on? For years journalists have questioned whether the poker bubble has burst. The World Series of Poker's main event drew more players in 2006 (8,773) than in 2010 (7,319) and 2013 (6,352). And cable TV is no longer flooded with poker TV shows 24/7. Perhaps the biggest change to hit the Vegas poker world is the recent legalization of online gambling. It wouldn't be fair to blame the recent closures of poker rooms exclusively on that, but surely the casinos saw online gambling as part of the writing on the wall—the only place poker is growing in Nevada is along the information superhighway. So now, poker players don't just wait to see which website the Gaming Control Board will license next; they wait to see which brickand-mortar room will be the next victim. –Rick Lax 10 LASVEGASWEEKLY.COM SEPTEMBER 12–18, 2013 10_AWSI_Opener_20130912.indd 10 9/11/13 1:06 PM

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