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Legendary UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian celebrates 82nd birthday Wednesday

Aug 8, 2012, 11:46 AM EDT

Jerry Tarkanian AP

Born Aug. 8, 1930, legendary coach Jerry Tarkanian celebrates his 82nd birthday Wednesday, now a decade removed from his last job at a Division I school.

Tarkanian, most recognizable for his time with UNLV’s famed “Runnin’ Rebel” teams of the late 1980s and early 1990s, went to four Final Fours and won a national championship during his time in Las Vegas.

He finished his coaching career with an overall record of 706-198 and, on either side of his famed career at UNLV, was able to lead two other programs to a string of 20-win seasons.

Before coming to Las Vegas, he coached Long Beach State to five straight 20-win campaigns and, after UNLV, returned to coaching to lead his alma mater, Fresno State, to six straight 20-win seasons before retiring in 2002.

Tarkanian was a prominent figure in the recent documentary “Unguarded,” which profiled one of his former players at Fresno State, guard Chris Herren.

After trouble with drugs at Boston College, the talented Herren transferred to Tarkanian’s Fresno State team, playing with the Bulldogs from 1996-99 and eventually being drafted into the NBA.

Throughout his career, Tarkanian sparred with the NCAA, having taken on penalties for recruiting violations at Long Beach State and ultimately being forced out at UNLV over ties to Richard Perry, a man with connections to sports gambling. In 1998, he won a $2.5 million settlement from the NCAA after he alleged the organization “manufactured evidence” against him and harassed him for much of his coaching career.

Last year, a number of Tarkanian’s former players surprised him for his 81st birthday party. Among those players in attendance were Larry Johnson and Reggie Theus.

One of Tarkanian’s former players at UNLV, Dave Rice, now leads the Runnin’ Rebels as their head coach with perhaps the most hype surrounding the program since Tarkanian’s days at the helm.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

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