By Brian Hurlburt, Las Vegas Golf Insider
When you walk into Piero’s Italian Cuisine in Las Vegas, the feeling is like that of the epic sitcom CHEERS … “where everybody knows your name” … and when it comes to college hoops—and hoops in general– that is most certainly the case.
And with the 2019-20 college basketball season now in full swing, we are reminiscing about the history of Piero’s and basketball over the years.
The Tarkanian Room—created in honor of the late UNLV Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame coach Jerry Tarkanian—is world famous for its memorabilia from the 1990 NCAA championship team and other photos of Tark “the Shark” with a wide range of celebrities, including best friend and Piero’s Las Vegas owner Fred Glusman.
On his 80th birthday in 2017, Glusman took time to remember Tarkanian, who was more than a dear friend.
“I want you all to remember one person, who died on my birthday, Jerry Tarkanian,” Glusman said to the many there on his special day. “He died two years ago today, and I loved him. He was like father to me.”
It’s that family feeling that has made Piero’s Las Vegas what it is over the last four decades.
During the 2019 NBA Summer League—held in Las Vegas each July—the Los Angeles Lakers team ate a late dinner at Piero’s and countless other current and past NBA coaches and players frequented the restaurant during the two-week period.
Also, around that same time, University of Kansas head coach Bill Self hosted a Kansas “family” reunion, and he chose Piero’s Las Vegas as the location. Self has been a regular for many years.
New Orleans head coach Alvin Gentry, San Antonio Spurs general manager R.C. Buford, former Kansas head coach Larry Brown and former NBA veterans Drew Gooden and Nick Collison were among the 21 former men’s basketball team members at the dinner. Nakia Sanford, who played for the Jayhawks women’s basketball team from 1995 to 1999, was also in attendance.
“The bottom line is, we’re all family, regardless of what generation you’re from and regardless of who we played for,” Self said in a press release about the reunion. “Nothing makes us more proud to see guys who have gone on after their time at Kansas and done good things.”
The family sentiment is something shared at Piero’s on a nightly basis by families and friends from around the world, whether from one of the most tradition-rich basketball schools ever or just a “regular” family celebrating a special occasion.
“This is special. We’re all part of a special thing here. At the end of the day, we just look after each other. There’s a common bond here that we have that no one can separate,” said former Kansas player Jacque Vaughan after the Piero’s gathering.
“It was amazing. Everybody there told jokes and stories until late in the night,” former center Eric Chenowith told the Kansas City Star. “I was walking out with coach Self … he said he hadn’t laughed that hard in years. We aren’t able to get together that often. When we do, we pick up where we left off, telling stories. It was really a lot of fun.”
Piero’s Las Vegas managing partner Evan Glusman deeply understands how Piero’s plays a role in bringing so many families and friends together.
“Nights like the Kansas reunion are extremely special, and we take making everything perfect very seriously because we know that night is going to remembered forever by the people in that room,” Evan Glusman says. “I also remember so vividly Jerry Tarkanian coming into the restaurant and the impact he not only made on those around him, but on the entire city.
“To know Piero’s plays a small role in so many celebrations is very humbling. There are a lot of places people can choose for a reunion or birthday or wedding or celebration of life or other special time, so we just want people to know that we are here to make everything wonderful and create lifetime memories.”
Groups or families can contact expert Theresa Mayorga at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702.369.2305 for personal service.
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