Wednesday, April 29, 2009 | 10:08 a.m.
Editor's note: Ken Korach is the play-by-play broadcaster for the Oakland A's. Korach, who lives in Henderson, had extensive experience broadcasting in the Las Vegas area. He was Glen Gondrezick's partner on UNLV basketball broadcasts for 12 years.
It's appropriate that they are having Glen Gondrezick's memorial service at the Thomas & Mack Center, because the gym is where Gondo was always most comfortable.
In fact, the most fitting tribute would be to have the entire current Rebels team dive head first into the scorer's table. That's the way Gondo played and it's the way he lived his life.
He dived head first into his heart transplant surgery, with no fear and the hope of a better life to come.
When I was on hold waiting to do a radio interview yesterday, I heard a heartbroken Jerry Tarkanian talk about Gondo, and the old coach kept returning to one word: loyalty.
Tark was spot on. During the 12 years we worked together, Gondo was a loyal friend and partner. I was asked during the interview why Gondo stuck it out all those years when so many others abandoned UNLV's basketball program. Loyalty. He loved the program and he loved the game.
One of my fondest memories is spending an entire day at the Hartford Civic Center the day before the Rebels' 1998 appearance in the NCAA tournament. We sat courtside for eight hours, watching all of the teams practice. Basketball junkies in heaven.
We were paired together as broadcasters in 1992, which was the first year after Tark. We did our last game – in the NIT in Boise – in the spring of 2004.
In those 12 years UNLV had, including those with interim titles, eight different coaches. It was almost comical. There was one season -- 1994-95 -- when we would prepare for the Tuesday coach's show not knowing who the coach was going to be that night. It was a tumultuous time, but Gondo never wavered in his support.
Make no mistake, there were times he was frustrated and angry about the direction things were going, but he always believed UNLV could return to its past glory. He was a constant. Think back to the last 17 years.
Since Tark left, Gondo was, in many ways, the face and the voice of the basketball program. He was also an iron man. Despite struggling with his health, he was the Cal Ripken of analysts. Toughness and loyalty. Two things stand out in looking back over our time together, and I come back to Tark's comments.
No matter what was happening off the court, Gondo was all business once the broadcasts began. From the first day, I thought our chemistry was great and nothing could change it. He was dedicated, supportive and always intent on making sure nothing got in the way of our on relationship on the air.
The other was that Gondo knew his role. We did a lot of television when we started together, and I used to tell him that TV is an analyst's medium. Take the ball and run with it, I used to tell him. But, as things morphed into us doing radio exclusively, Gondo's role changed.
On radio, the analyst has to pick his spots, but Gondo's ego never got in the way of doing the right thing. I felt like we were part of band, when things are really cooking. I knew where he was at all times. It was a feel thing. I could feel when he was going to talk and that rhythm is oft-times elusive depending on how partners get along, but we always had it.
He was a rigid guy. There was no middle ground in the way he lived and the way he passed judgment. He never played the political game, and I can confirm the Gondo continued to freeze out Irv Brown, the basketball official, long after the 1977 Final Four, when there was a huge disparity in fouls between UNLV and North Carolina. Brown later became a broadcaster and did numerous UNLV games.
We all try to leave a legacy, and for Gondo it is very simple. Mention his name to UNLV fans, and they immediately think of one thing: the way he played.
You buy a ticket and you want to see effort, and what a great lesson for all of us. He hustled, he cared and he competed. He gave it everything he had, until, ultimately, the big guy with the huge heart had nothing left.
It was a privilege to have spent 12 years doing UNLV's games with Gondo. Twelve years is a long time. You go through good and bad and a lot of emotion. Spend a lot of time together on the air and off, in gyms and hotels and airports. He's gone now, but there is something very special about the word “partner.” We were partners, and in my memories we always will be.