Former UNLV Rebel Larry Johnson is holding another grudge against UNLV. His first was back in the day when he felt UNLV should have backed infamous coach Jerry Tarkanian against the NCAA sanction. When former head coach Lon Kruger took over for UNLV he did mend relationships with Johnson and other former players with events with those former players as well as inviting them to games.
Now he is bitter about not being contacted at all about being an assistant coach at his alma mater. Johnson is a former Naiamath Award and Wooden Award winner in 1991 and led UNLV to back-to-back Final Fours and a national championship in 1990.
Back in April, Johnson was campaigning to become an assistant with UNLV, and Johnson believed that he could make up his lack of coaching experience in other ways:
"We can put butts in the seats and we definitely can recruit. There's no growing pains I would have to go through, and if I have the right cast around me, I believe I can do it. And I really believe the city would be behind me."
Not sure if UNLV could or wanted afford to take on a project coach to help lead their team. UNLV is at a point where they are a threat to win the MWC each year as well as a constant in the NCAA tournament. Johnson may get the attention of some recruits, but he hasn't played in the NBA in an long time. Plus, can he handle the recruiting grind.
Well, Johnson did not get the job and is now whining about not getting a phone call:
When [Lon] Kruger left for the University of Oklahoma and Johnson reacted by saying he would love to coach the Rebels, that bitterness returned when the administration never contacted him.
"I don't like those Arizona people in the administration and they don't like me," Johnson told Gaming Today, a newspaper dedicated to coverage of the commercial casino industry. "It's not UNLV Runnin' Rebels no more, it's UNLV Wildcats right now."
"People all over town, wherever I went, asked me if I wanted to coach," Johnson said. "They wanted me and Stacey [Augmon], knowing he had been an assistant coach. They had to hire him (as an assistant), knowing they would never consider me."
Referring UNLV as the Wildcats is a reference to UNLV athletic director Jim Livengood who had the same position at Arizona. That term is unfair since Rice and Augmon are both former UNLV teammates. Yes, UNLV should have at least talked to Johnson about the job just to placate him, plus you never know if they would have been impressed during Johnson's interview.
Johnson also believed that he could keep the top local recruits at Bishop Gorman and Findley Prep in UNLV if he were on staff. Not anymore without Johnson on staff, well according to himself:
"It's all about recruiting and identification with past performers at the school," Johnson said. "The administration turned its back on us and consequently players have left for Texas, Duke and other top national programs. Today, I would probably do the same."
Who knows if Johnson would have been a good fit or would have given up after a few years such as former University of Houston and NBA great Clyde Drexler did by coaching Houston for only two years before hanging up the clipboard.