Iowa men’s basketball honors Chris Street versus Northwestern

The impact of Iowa men’s basketball star Chris Street is still felt in his home state, thirty years after his passing, with the recent release of a Big Ten Network documentary regarding his life and death.


Matt Sindt

The jersey of former Iowa player Chris Street is seen while Iowa players are introduced before a men’s basketball game between Iowa and Northwestern at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023. The jersey was placed to honor the memory of Street. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 86-70.

Grant Hall, Sports Reporter

Prior to the Iowa men’s basketball team’s rescheduled home matchup with Northwestern on Jan. 31, family members of Chris Street spoke to the media about his impact on the state, and a newly-released documentary about their son and brother.

On Jan. 19, 1993, Street, a junior forward for the Hawkeyes, and potential NBA prospect, collided with a snow plow in a car accident outside the Highlander Inn in Iowa City and died on the scene. His death is mourned in the state to this day.

The Big Ten Network released a documentary, titled “The B1G Story: Chris Street,” regarding Street’s legacy as a Hawkeye on Jan. 18, intended to debut after the Northwestern-Iowa matchup, following the Hawkeyes originally planned Chris Street Night, in Iowa City.

The documentary was slated to premiere nearly 30 years to the day of Street’s passing, but after a series of COVID-19 outbreaks and injuries sidelined the Wildcats prior to the scheduled matchup, the two programs postponed the game to Jan. 31. 

Regardless of the delay, fans showed up to Carver-Hawkeye Arena in support of not only their beloved Hawkeyes but to pay their respects to the Street family Tuesday night. 

Chris’ parents, Mike and Patty Street, told the media that they appreciate the support they’ve received over the three decades since their son’s death. They said they’ve felt a recent uptick of public attention in the two weeks since the documentary’s debut.

“It means a great deal [that his memory is treasured in Iowa],” Patty said. “We’ve been blessed these last 30 years that he has not been forgotten, and I don’t think he will ever be. That is very comforting.”

Mike cited the new documentary as visual evidence of his son’s impact for younger generations to see.

“This has allowed a lot of the younger players to have a visual representation of what [Chris] meant to people,” Mike said. “That’s expanded to other generations and helped them feel like they know him… This documentary will certainly last longer than I will.”

During Tuesday’s game, the Street family watched on, sitting a handful of rows behind the Iowa bench, as the Hawkeyes surged to their second straight win. Iowa scored 47 points in the second half to blow out the Wildcats, 86-70.

RELATED: Iowa men’s basketball defeats Northwestern with late surge

Fifth-year forward Filip Rebraca scored 20 points and pulled down 10 boards in the victory. The Serbian big man said he was inspired by Chris’ story en route to his big game.

“We know what this night was for,” Rebraca said. “We know who we’re playing for, so you have to turn it up a little bit. We were not losing this game.”

Sophomore guard Payton Sandfort pitched in 20 points on 6-for-8 shooting, as well. The Waukee, Iowa, native said Chris’ impact is still felt in his home state, and the importance of playing well on a night dedicated to Chris was not lost on him.

“Growing up, they always hosted a Chris Street Memorial Tournament where I would play in Indianola,” Sandfort said. “I really never realized the impact he had until I got to high school or when I came to Iowa, and then watching that documentary almost brought me to tears. He’s truly someone that not just this program, but the entire state, could rally around.”

After the final buzzer, Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said he had Mike address the team.

“It’s very important to this program, and it’s bigger than this team,” McCaffery said. “The connection that remains between Chris’ family and our program is so important to all of us. I didn’t address the team– Mike did – and I thought it was important that he do that because he had some really poignant things to say.”

The support for the Street family was not limited to the Iowa side of the court, either. Northwestern head coach Chris Collins, who played against Street at Duke, became close friends with him during a visit to Iowa during Collins’ recruiting process.

“He was an Iowa Hawkeye, through and through,” Collins said. “He loved this place, and he was a great player and an awesome person… I’m sure he was really proud of his Hawkeyes tonight. They fought hard in his honor.”

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