While UNLV coach Lon Kruger has the Thomas & Mack Center rocking again, many Las Vegans recall with fondness the Jerry Tarkanian dynasty, when Runnin' Rebel games were the hottest tickets in town. Now you can relive that towel-chewing, championship-producing era in an upcoming HBO documentary.
Beginning March 12, on the eve of college basketball's NCAA Tournament, HBO Sports will air "Runnin' Rebels of UNLV." The documentary revisits the period from 1973 to 1992, when the team, and its lightening rod of a coach, embodied the swaggering spirit of Las Vegas.
"The Runnin' Rebels' impact on college basketball is indisputable," said Ross Greenburg, president of HBO Sports. "Their accomplishments on the court made them royalty in Las Vegas, and their glamorous approach made them media stars nationally. ... We are going to chronicle their story, providing an in-depth portrait of the main characters who lit up the desert."
"Runnin' Rebels of UNLV" examines the larger-than-life personalities of Larry Johnson, Greg Anthony, and Stacey Augmon, as well as the eccentricities of coach Jerry Tarkanian. Using an up-tempo offense and stifling defense, Tarkanian guided the Rebels to four Final Fours. The Runnin' Rebels won the 1990 NCAA Championship by beating the Duke Blue Devils by 30 points, still largest margin of victory in a championship game.
Billed as one of the greatest college basketball teams of all-time, the 1990-91 Rebels became the first team in 12 seasons to go undefeated during the regular season before losing in the Final Four to archrival Duke in a heartbreaking 79-77 defeat.
The documentary also delves into the controversy surrounding the legendary coach. Tarkanian compiled a 509-105 record at UNLV but was constantly being watched by the NCAA.
Interviews include Tarkanian, and his wife, Lois; former stars Greg Anthony, Reggie Theus, Stacey Augmon, and Armen Gilliam; Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski; talk show host Jimmy Kimmel; and broadcaster Ross Porter.
The HBO Sports website has a complete schedule of "Runnin' Rebels of UNLV," which runs through April 24.