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Thursday, May 2, 2013
Jerry Tarkanian statue pretty much perfect

By Eamonn Brennan

The statue should match the man.

I don't really know all that much about statues, honestly, but I like them, and at the very least I know how often sports statues can go hilariously awry.  There is just the one rule: If you're going to build a statue for a coach, it should match that coach's personality, whether for better or worse. Also, it should actually look like the coach. OK, two rules.

Case in point: When UCLA unveiled its John Wooden statue, it paid homage to the man himself in ways both obvious and subtle. Not only was the pose classic Wooden -- arms crossed, gentle but firm -- but it didn't take an art collector to notice the subtext of making a statue eight feet tall and 400 pounds: Wooden was a titan. He remains as such forevermore.

UNLV's planned statue for Jerry Tarkanian -- which the school revealed via a release Wednesday -- is equally great for similar reasons, even though it couldn't look less like the Wooden statue. Instead of the wise, determined patriarch towering over Pauley Pavilion, Tark's statue will depict him sitting down on one of two folding chairs, distressed, with a bronze towel stuffed firmly between his chompers. Tarkanian's statue will be life-sized, which will make it more fun for fans to sit down in the extra folding chair and take a photo with the Shark.

Again, it's not just the appearance -- it's what the statue says about the man. Tarkanian was many things: accessible, quirky, whimsical, and above all controversial, but he never seemed to take himself or anything else too seriously. UNLV's statue is a perfect tribute.