UNLV Honors Its Final Four Teams
Nov. 12, 2008
LAS VEGAS (AP)-- UNLV's Final Four heroes got the red carpet treatment Tuesday as dozens of players who helped build the Runnin' Rebels' legacy were honored at halftime of an exhibition game against Washburn.
Greg Anthony, Freddie Banks and Anderson Hunt were among the most notable former players to participate in the "FOURever" Runnin' Rebels celebration, which honored the 1977, '87 and '91 Final Four teams. A separate ceremony is planned next season to celebrate the 1990 national championship team on its 20th anniversary.
"It's an honor to be here," said Freddie Banks, the shooting guard on the 1987 team whose 10 3-pointers against Indiana in the national semifinals is a Final Four record. "This is home. The fans are still great to me."
The former players' names were announced at halftime of UNLV's 74-56 win over Washburn. They then walked--some chose to run--across a red carpet to midcourt, where they received plaques for their role in UNLV history.
The evening also included an alumni game, which helped several stir up fond memories.
Hunt, a guard who was the Most Valuable Player of the Final Four when the Rebels beat Duke for the national title, received a standing ovation multiple times during the evening.
"It's great to be back and talking to the guys I played with and just being here at UNLV," Hunt said.
This is the third straight year the program has paid tribute to its legendary performers. Coach Lon Kruger, in his fifth year, has been aggressive in reaching out to the past.
The court at the Thomas & Mack was named after longtime coach Jerry Tarkanian, who guided the school to its Final Fours. He also reached out to UNLV legends Larry Johnson and Stacey Augmon for support.
Several disassociated themselves from the program after Tarkanian left on bad terms after the 1992 season, but have since returned and endorsed the Kruger era. UNLV has won games the past two years in the NCAA Tournament--a welcome sign for the players who stood at midcourt during halftime.
"Lon's done a great job turning this thing around," Banks said. "He?s been perfect for this program. He makes us proud to say we are Rebels."
Anthony, the point guard on the national championship team, had his jersey retired two years ago and was the most prominent player in attendance. Last year, Armen Gilliam, the leading scorer on the 1987 team, had his jersey retired.