Jerry Tarkanian Was Fired After Just 20 Games

Published on April 12th, 2024 6:30 pm EST
Written By: Dave Manuel

Coach Tarkanian and his brief chapter in the National Basketball Association. The shortest coaching tenure in NBA history belongs to Jerry Tarkanian, who was fired after just 20 games by the San Antonio Spurs.

Tarkanian was a college coaching legend, as he took UNLV to four Final Fours during his time with the school.

While Tarkanian's later years at UNLV were certainly marred by scandal, he had absolutely no issue landing a NBA head coaching position.

Shortly after leaving UNLV, Tarkanian was hired as the new head coach of the San Antonio Spurs.


There were immediate issues when Tarkanian arrived in San Antonio.

To start, Tarkanian immediately clashed with team owner Red McCombs over player personnel issues.

McCombs was not used to having his authority challenged, especially by a newly hired head coach.

Tarkanian felt as though the team needed an experienced point guard in order to be successful, but McCombs thought differently.

Another issue was how the locker room took to Tarkanian.

Some college coaches that transition to the pros do very well - others do not.

The ones who fail are usually the coaches that treat NBA players like college players, and NBA players find that to be the ultimate sign of disrespect.

The players on the Spurs didn't enjoy Tarkanian's coaching style, and the locker room quickly started to turn against him, just a few games into his tenure.

Another issue - Tarkanian's health, as he mentioned that the stress of the job was causing his blood pressure to spike.


After starting the season 9-11, the San Antonio Spurs decided to give the coaching legend the boot.

The two sides agreed to a settlement, and Tarkanian would return to college basketball, never to be seen in the NBA again.

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