Time passes, and sports records are meant to be broken. But Jordan Bohannon, Iowa’s sophomore point guard, decided that one record, set long ago by a legendary Hawkeyes hoops player, should stand for a little longer.
And so, with fans chanting “Chris! Chris!” and the parents of Chris Street in the stands, Bohannon stepped to the line Sunday and deliberately clanged a free throw that would have broken Street’s school record of 34 in a row. The former star was killed in January 1993 when his car collided with a snowplow.
“Obviously that’s not my record to have. Obviously that record deserves to stay in his name,” Bohannon told the Big Ten Network after the game. “I’ve been really close to his family these past couple of years. … Just listening to his story, honestly, it’s really gotten me emotional these past couple of games because I knew what I wanted to do.”
In case anyone missed his message, Bohannon, who scored 25 points (with seven threes) in Iowa’s 77-70 victory over Northwestern, pointed to the sky after missing his free throw. “Life is much bigger than basketball,” he tweeted after the game.
“I know where the record deserves to stand, and that’s in Chris’ name,” Bohannon said. “It gets me a little emotional, knowing what one player can do for an entire state and entire Midwest and entire country, just to know what type of player he was.”
Street died on Jan. 19, 1993, shortly before his 21st birthday and just weeks before he and his girlfriend, Kim Vinton, were to announce their engagement. He had been returning to campus for a night class after a team meal; Iowa’s then-coach, Tom Davis, said at the time that Street “represented all that is good about the Midwest and the state of Iowa,” and that he was “one of the greatest Hawkeyes of all time.”
Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski recently called Street “the leader you followed not just because of courage but because of intelligence,” explaining to The Washington Post’s John Feinstein why he once told Street it was an honor to play against him.
“Chris was just different,” Krzyzewski said. “That’s why I said it.”
The school later retired Street’s No. 40 jersey, and named its outstanding player award after him. Last month brought the 25th anniversary of Street’s death, when he was honored with a tribute video at an Iowa game with his parents, Patty and Mike, in the stands. Retired Des Moines Register sportswriter Rick Brown, who wrote a biography of Street, said at the ceremony that his story was one of team and family.
“Chris wasn’t just a Hawkeye,” Brown said, according to the Des Moines Register and Iowa City Press-Citizen. “He was heart and he was hustle. He was Iowa, and he was a part of everyone sitting here today.”
His parents were there again Sunday, when Bohannon helped shine national attention on their son.
“What a good kid. He’s so kind,” Patty Street said of Bohannon, via Chad Leistikow of the Register and Press-Citizen. “That was so special that he thought of Christopher and that record.”
Mike Street accepted that the mark would fall one day, and said he was happy that it would go to Bohannon.
“Christopher would want him to do to the best he could do and stay after it. But that was Jordan’s decision, and if that’s what he wanted to do, then we appreciate it,” Mike Street said. “We certainly in the future want him to get another shot at it.
“I told him, ‘Next time, you need to go right on by.’”
On Facebook, Street admitted that Bohannon’s tribute caught him by surprise.
“So many thoughts and emotions tonight with Jordon making and tying CMS’s free throw record,” Mike Street wrote. “Then finding out that he intentionally missed that 35th free throw. I wasn’t prepared for that.
“Now having time to think about it, I must say WOW.!! What a way to show your RESPECT for a fellow Iowa Hawkeye that you only knew by what you have read. I’m sure CMS would like to claim you as his little brother. (I’m also sure that your family wouldn’t want to give YOU up.)
“Thanks Jordan for your incredible unselfish act of respect.”
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