Jerry Tarkanian – Tark the Shark

Maybe we can blame Steven Spielberg for creating “Jaws.” Maybe it’s our fear and lack of understanding. We just don’t get a warm and fuzzy feeling about sharks. Most people don’t feel badly at all if a shark dies. Today is different, for me anyway. Jerry Tarkanian, “Tark the Shark,” has passed away at the age of 84.

Here’s my take on Tark.

He was like the “Rodney Dangerfield” of basketball coaches. He never really got the respect he was due, until near the end when he was elected into the Hall of Fame. Imagine winning 729 of the 930 college basketball games you coached, but being known and remembered for your ritual of chewing on a wet towel, and battling the NCAA.

Tark wasn’t an angel in the City of Sin. He never claimed to be. But he was a winner every bit as much as the house usually is in the Las Vegas Casinos. He won at Long Beach State. He won at UNLV. He won at his alma mater, Fresno State. In the end, he won vs. the NCAA.

Jerry Tarkanian was also a true rebel. The way he ran the basketball program at UNLV put the Runnin’ Rebels and the university on the map. He created a dynasty going 509-105 in 19 seasons. I’ll never forget the amazement in the arena as his team put a dominating beat down on Coach K’s Duke Blue Devils to win the National Championship in 1990.

Tark’s success built the Thomas and Mack Center. He earned the statue which is there. In the land of glitz and glamour, he produced one of the most popular shows and toughest tickets in town. For years, a courtside stroll down “Gucci Row” showed you the real stars and the real players in Vegas.

When I began one of my favorite TV positions as the Staff Reporter for a nationally syndicated show, “Billy Packer’s College Basketball,” one of the first stories I elected to do was a piece with Jerry Tarkanian. I already knew there was more to the coach, the man, than met the eye. Here’s some examples:

  • Tark’s teams were known for how great they were on offense. But Tark himself loved to talk about defense.
  • Year after year he’d bet on kids the more established college basketball programs didn’t want or considered losers. Many of them were JUCOs, junior college transfers. Some of them were from projects. Some of them were real projects. Tark turned them into teams of winners.
  • He and his lovely wife, Lois, often made their family seem like family to these kids who were far away from their own homes, and in the new foreign worlds of college and Las Vegas. Let the impact of that sink in.
  • Ironically, the Tarkanian family resided on Justice Lane in Las Vegas. Eventually, Jerry got his justice, $2.5 million dollars worth from the NCAA. But the damage from his battles over the years had already run down the ultimate Runnin’ Rebel.

I saw on Twitter today, his son Danny called him the greatest man he’s ever known. Speaking of greats…maybe now that he’s gone, Jerry Tarkanian will finally be remembered by the public where his record in college basketball says he belongs…as one of the all-time greats.

The fight is over. RIP #CoachTark

by Thomas Baldrick

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Elevation Chandler Becoming Chandler Viridian

“What doesn’t go up, must come down.” The unfinished Elevation Chandler project is now proof of it. But unlike gravity, this was painfully slow. The shell of a structure was just demolished after more than 8 years in limbo at a high profile location on the southeast side of the Chandler Fashion Center.

Elevation Chandler barely got off the ground when construction was halted in Spring 2006. The concrete skeleton by developer Jeff Cline was haunted by financial problems which morphed into legal issues. The property went through years of lawsuits, bankruptcy, foreclosure, and more lawsuits.

If you were a resident of Chandler or just passing through on the Loop 101/Loop 202 Freeways, you saw one of Arizona’s biggest eyesores. What you didn’t see was the heartache felt by well-intended investors who lost millions of dollars. What you didn’t see were the headaches felt by all of the well-intended people at the City of Chandler and in private industry who tried to fix the problem.

Eventually Hines Had the Solution

Thank goodness the international real estate firm, Hines, has an office in Phoenix. Thank goodness their managing director Chris Anderson isn’t a quitter. Through plenty of trials and tribulations, patience and perseverance, Hines efforts got them to being able to purchase the property.

You can see in the video below, the Elevation Chandler demolition was in itself cause for major celebration.


Chandler Mayor Jay Tibshraeny, all of the members of City Council, and many interested members of the community were on hand to watch the razing of the Elevation Chandler structure in ruins. The mayor got to take the first swipe at it. This was well-deserved since he couldn’t go anywhere in public without folks lashing out at him about the eyesore.

Today, there is more cause for celebration. Hines is kicking off its new project called, Chandler Viridian. The mixed-use development will feature luxury apartments, a six-story hotel, office space, and retail options promoting walkability to and from the Chandler Fashion Center.

Construction of the family living is slated to begin in the first quarter of 2015. The commercial properties are scheduled to begin in the second quarter, while the hotel, office, and retail construction starts later in 2015 and 2016.

Hallelujah Hines.

By Thomas Baldrick

Thomas Baldrick is an Emmy Award-winning on-camera talent and producer/writer based in Arizona. From script to screen in video production services, he helps companies, organizations, and individuals across the country to achieve the success they and their target audience want.




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2014 Phoenix Veterans Day Parade Stars World War II Veterans

PHOTO: Thomas Baldrick behind Denis Parry, Pearl Harbor Survivor Herb Weatherwax, and Lovely Lehua Weatherwax at home in Oahu after doing an interview at Pearl Harbor. March 2014.

C’mon now. Wouldn’t you like to actually see live World War II Veterans? Trust me Arizona, there’s no DVR for this one. There is no Netflix, no must see TV. If you want to see and salute real World War II Veterans it must be done in person. They’ll be live and in living color right in the heart of the 2014 Phoenix Veterans Day Parade.

This year’s parade theme is “Duty, Honor, Sacrifice: Celebrating Our World War II Veterans.” God willing, this special event won’t be your last chance to see these Great American Heroes. But tomorrow is promised to no one. So, it sure will be your best chance.

Think about it. The legendary Invasion of Normandy is having its 70th anniversary in 2014. You’ve heard and learned about the Attack on Pearl Harbor. You’ve heard and learned about December 7, 1941 – “A Date Which Will Live in Infamy.” Keep in mind, there’s not too many men left who heard it and experienced it…THAT DAY!”

There’s not too many soldiers remaining who answered President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Declaration of War, and who fought and suffered in World War II…and survived. The odds say the World War II Veterans who still live in the Valley of the Sun or other parts of Arizona are marching closer to their final sunset.

“We feel it is so important to recognize our World War II Veterans this year,” said Katherine Brooks, President of Honoring Arizona’s Veterans. “We know they are aging. It is our hope to give them another joyous event in their lifetime through the 2014 Phoenix Veterans Day Parade.”

This is not a time for procrastination. This is your time for participation.

Ask yourself: How many opportunities will you have to see these World War II Heroes?

Ask yourself: How many opportunities will they have to see you appreciate the tremendous sacrifices they made for you and your loved ones?

The saying is “History Repeats Itself.” But this time, “History is Predicting Itself…for YOU.” Take advantage of experiencing this fleeting moment in history. Bring your family, especially children. Bring a friend. We’ll look for you at the 2014 Phoenix Veterans Day Parade next Tuesday, 11-11 at 11. For more info visit:

By Thomas Baldrick

AZ STRONG is proud to support the 2014 Phoenix Veterans Day Parade.

Thomas Baldrick is an Emmy Award-winning on-camera talent and producer/writer based in Arizona. From script to screen in video production services, he helps companies, organizations, and individuals across the country to achieve the success they and their target audience want.




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Steven Spielberg & Arizona

Scene 1: Long before moving to Arizona, I began working in television in Philadelphia. I was born and raised there. I was well aware Steven Spielberg had childhood ties to the nearby of South Jersey. In the media, you are trained to always look for local hooks.

Scene 2: When I visited Cincinnati, they had longer, stronger pride and bragging rights to the world famous movie director. Steven Spielberg was born there in 1946.

Scene 3: When I visited Hollywood, California, Steven Spielberg was already one of the biggest names in the film industry.

Scene 4: When I fell in love with Arizona years ago, I heard Steven Spielberg had ties to Phoenix.

Scene 5: Recently, while reading a biography of the famous creative storytelling with my 8-year old son, I enjoyed discovering just how strong the Steven Spielberg Arizona ties really were.

Flashback – “Like a Scene in a Movie”

Steven Spielberg began his career in Hollywood. While taking a tour at Universal Studios, he ventured off on his own. This led the aspiring filmmaker to sneaking in day after day to watch and learn everything he could. He was quickly spotted. But the person liked him and gave him a 3-day pass.

Beginning on day 4, Steven repeatedly fooled the security guard with friendliness and a wave. He discovered an empty office and moved in. People assumed he belonged there. Around this time in 1969, he made his first professional release, “Amblin.” It was a 24-minute boy meets girl film about two hitchhikers on the way to a beach. Universal executives were impressed enough to sign Spielberg as a television director. He dropped out of college and rose through the ranks in television. In 1975, Steven took his first big bite out of Hollywood directing the blockbuster feature film, “Jaws.”

Steven Spielberg Arizona: The Plot Thickens 

Let the credits show Phoenix, Arizona is where one boy discovered his destiny. He fell in love with making movies. He was 10 years old.

Steven’s father, Arnold Spielberg, was a talented engineer. He got great job offers. Thus, the family was often on the move. For Father’s Day 1957, Steven’s mother Leah gave him a gift of an 8 millimeter movie camera. It was love at first sight for young Steven who couldn’t wait to borrow it.

Steven’s first production was “The Last Train Wreck.” The starring role was given to his Lionel train set. At the time, the film was the greatest 3 minutes in entertainment history to Steven who watched it over and over again.

The living room of the Spielberg’s home in the Arcadia section of Phoenix soon became a makeshift movie set. Steven persuaded his parents, his little sisters, and others into acting on camera.

His first short was about World War II pilots, titled, “Fighter Squad.” Arnold talked his son’s way into the airport for some filming.

When he was 11, Steven Spielberg made a 9-minute western starring his fellow Boy Scouts. The troop went wild when they viewed it. At that moment, Steven Spielberg said he knew what he wanted to do with his life.

In 1962, the 16-year old Arcadia High student made the Arizona desert look like the African desert for the 40-minute film, “Escape to Nowhere.” It was a story of U.S. soldiers trying to escape enemy troops. The film showed Steven was heading somewhere. It won him first prize in the Canyon Films Junior Film Festival.

In 1964, Steven took a big step forward with “Firelight.” The young director shined brightly in the 2-hour feature length film about alien kidnappings. His father donated $500 to the budget. The film took Steven one year to make.

For the premiere, the family rented a theater. Steven’s mother, Leah, made sure it was a full house. She even climbed a ladder outside the theatre to showcase the title on the marquee. The family drove to the event in a limo. It was a far cry from her driving their beat up old Army jeep in “Escape to Nowhere.”

Soon after, Steven’s family moved to Saratoga, California. Sadly, his parents split up. His mother and sisters returned to Arizona. He stayed with his father. The scenario broke Steven’s young heart. But at the same time led him right into his heart’s desire, a brilliant career making movies.

Steven Spielberg Arizona: A Starring Role in an Amazing Career.

by Thomas Baldrick




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Personal 9-11 Do’s & Don’ts

September 11, 2014     By Thomas Baldrick     #azstrong


WTC. The World Trade Center. WTF. September 11, 2001.

This is personal. If you ever wanted to read someone’s diary without feeling guilty or being ripped for it, here’s your chance. What to do with 9-11 memories? I don’t know. But every time the future brings September 11th to the present, it seems like my duty to share the past. Yeah, strange but true.

I don’t want to remember what I do about 9-11. But I don’t want Americans to forget.

If you feel the same way, you can share this with others

My heart still hurts for the many victims and their loved ones. I’m just a guy who lost part of himself that day and replaced it with other stuff. I covered the 9-11 tragedies for more than 6 weeks straight as a television journalist with ABC News. My sensitivity on the job helped greatly in some ways, hurt deeply in others. First, I was in New York City. Then, weeks later after I asked to quickly sneak home to Philadelphia for clean clothes one night after a scary bomb scare at Newark International Airport, I wound up being sent to Shanksville, PA. From New York City to there, you can’t experience more of a night and day difference in America than that.

Since the horrifying day Osama Bin Laden and his band of misguided Al Qaeda assassins (let’s call them asses for short), each anniversary has been less than pleasant. Each one has been different. #ThankYouArizona for the sun shining today.

So here goes. My brain and heart are sharing my good, bad, and ugly inside in the form of personal… “9-11 Do’s and Don’ts.”  

DO: I do get touched deeply by the annual September 11th Moment of Silence.

DON’T: I don’t think my neighbor’s yappy dog knew or cared about it this morning.


DO: 13 years later, I do remember. I remember sights and sounds. I remember smells, thoughts and feelings.

DON’T: I don’t wonder for a second why many men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces have PTSD. I also don’t understand how these brave yet battered wounded warriors been so mistreated by their fellow Americans at the Phoenix VA Hospital.


DO: I do remember September 11, 2001 was a Tuesday.

DON’T: I don’t believe I can still hear Brian K. from the ABC News Bureau saying to me, “Pack a bag! We need you!… Oh by the way, can you come?”


DO: I do admit to having a love affair with the World Trade Center. Every time I saw those magnificent twin towers from New Jersey, I always got excited to be returning to New York City.

DON’T: Despite a beautiful photo in my home, I still don’t have the ability to think of those buildings without seeing them on fire and smoke rising to the heavens above the 5 boroughs.


DO: I do vividly remember standing near a bearded man in a turban as we both tried to use a pay phone. We said nothing to each other. We didn’t take our eyes off each other, or turn our backs on each other.

DON’T: I don’t deny judging him and wondering if he was Al Qaeda, wondering if I should just kick his ass before another act of terrorism happened.


DO: I do know I’ve kept my word since 9-11 and have been forced to act on it, never letting fear get in the way of some idiot possibly taking me and others down on an airplane.

DON’T: I don’t understand why more American passengers aren’t this way.


DO: I do remember being absolutely terrified on 9-11, literally thinking the world might be coming to an end. I know others were thinking the same thing.

DON’T: I don’t think there’s any way to measure the power of that fear, or the extraordinary acts of bravery, courage, and patriotism which shined in spite of it.


DO: Honor and thank #FDNY, #NYPD, the great people of the Greater New York City area for their kindness, courage, and leadership.

DON’T: Fail to include honor and thanks to the Shanksville Fire Department, the super people of Shanksville, PA, former Pennsylvania Governors Tom Ridge and Mark Schweiker for their kindness, courage, and leadership.


DO: I said that day and many times since 9-11 how not only is tomorrow promised to no one…but neither is later today.

DON’T: I hope you don’t ignore what I just wrote. Tell people you love them every chance you get.


DO: I do admire New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani for becoming Superman after 9-11, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

DON’T: I don’t think you can underestimate how he also rose to be part Gandhi, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Captain America, Statue of Liberty, and Humpty Dumpty. Really.


DO: I do remember using my journalistic skills to reach the Newark Airport Terminal just hours after United Flight 93 took off and was hijacked.

DON’T: I still don’t know how at least one of the dozen or so police officers who were so scared and angry that day didn’t pull an itchy trigger finger on their shotguns all pointed right at me.


DO: I do know 9-11 brought out the goodness inside many people.

DON’T: I don’t know if you can comprehend what a small town the Big Apple was for a while after September 11th.


DO: I do know being blessed to serve as host of those life-changing retreats for children who lost loved ones in the World Trade Center was one of the greatest, most incredible honors of my life.

DON’T: I don’t want to believe any of the rumors about the Todd M. Beamer Foundation, the amazing people, and the mighty heroic mission I knew.


DO: I do know there were many victims who were lucky to escape with their lives on September 11th, 2001. I do know there were many heroes such as those from FDNY Engine 40 Ladder 12 in Manhattan who knew they were going to their deaths at the World Trade Center…and went anyway.

DON’T: I don’t know if I could ever be as brave as the heroes on 9-11 or admire them enough.


DO: What I can’t do yet is forgive. What I can’t do yet is forget.

DON’T: I don’t know if I ever will.


DO: I do have many more 9-11 Do’s & Don’ts memories to share.

DON’T: But I don’t want to do this anymore right now. Thank you for caring enough to read.


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Arizona Rainbow Reminder

This is a true story. In fact it just happened. See how an Arizona Rainbow serves as a reminder for you that anything is possible in business and in life.

The state of Arizona has an abundance of beautiful views. There’s the awe inspiring Grand Canyon. There are amazing sunrises and sunsets. There’s countless photo opps of mountains, cactus, palm trees, desert landscape, and many lakes, too. Finally, there are millions of beautiful human examples of eye candy. I was told the best-looking people in the world reside in the state of Arizona.

Based on the wide range of beauty options, Arizona Rainbows aren’t even needed. But we do have them, and they are beautiful. They are breathtaking when you take in the background as well.

The most Spectacular Rainbow I ever saw…

It was years ago while producing a documentary about the Big Island of Hawaii for the Discovery Channel. I was standing waist deep in the Pacific Ocean near Hilo. I saw with my own two eyes why Hilo is known as “The City of Rainbows.” I felt the magical, mesmerizing effect, too.

It was late afternoon. I was with the guys from one of our camera crews. This particular rainbow stretched across the skies as far as the eye could see. If you were trying to capture it in a panoramic photo on your iPhone you would have gotten tired by the time you reached the end. This rainbow was that wide. I will remember that moment for as long as I live.

The most timely rainbow I ever saw…

It was last Saturday evening, August 2, 2014. Around 6:00 p.m. I was driving my son Julian and a pair of our little neighbors. I’ve chauffeured this trio before of ages 8, 6, and 4. We were on our way to a swim party at the marvelous Mesquite Groves Aquatic Center in Southeast Chandler.

This wasn’t just any party. It was a farewell. My neighbors were moving from Arizona as the family’s Big Daddy got a great job offer in Boise, Idaho. Storms coming in from the northwest caused concern about the swim party. But it was sunny in the direction we were heading.

The kids wanted to hear the Kermit the Frog sing “The Rainbow Connection” song sung by Kermit the Frog. Soon everyone was happily singing along. At the exact moment the song ended, we made a left turn onto Riggs Road from McQueen Road.  We were looking east.


Up in the sky there suddenly appeared a beautiful Arizona Rainbow.

The kids looked out the window with wide eyes. They were simply amazed at the timing. I was right there with them, amazed at this unique and shocking Arizona Rainbow Connection.

The kids said in that moment they would remember this rainbow forever. I suggested they always remember it as a sign anything in life is possible. I made a point of saying the same thing to myself specifically about business.

I joked with the kids how I was relieved they didn’t request hearing “Frosty the Snowman.” Naturally, they did. While I was able to play the song from YouTube, I didn’t have the power to make it snow in August in hot and sunny Chandler, Arizona. Maybe it will work next time. After all, anything in life and business is possible. You just have to believe.

Get creative. Think about what you want to create in business. Right now, it might feel more possible, especially when you compare it to having to manifest an Arizona Rainbow.

By Thomas Baldrick  Google +

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