A Fond, Grinning, Apologetic Dash of Blind Nostalgia
HBO Sports, an old name in the burgeoning sports documentary genre, has chosen a ripe fruit for inspection in the scandalous run of coach Jerry Tarkanian and the UNLV men's basketball program of the 1980s, but have also checked their objective responsibilities at the door. In a brief sixty minutes, the film breezes through Tarkanian's arrival on campus and earliest NCAA violations in the late '70s, revels in the university's brief heyday ten years later, eagerly excuses the school of all responsibility and gallantly blames everyone from a new school president to the investigators themselves for daring to follow through on repeated threats to police the program. Were the Rebels unfairly singled out by a vengeful good ol' boys association, as Tarkanian and the filmmakers so frequently imply? Perhaps. Was the team completely without blame? Certainly not. But by failing to even attempt to represent both sides of the story, the impression I was left with was a simple one: where there's smoke, there's fire.
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