IOWA CITY, Iowa - Mike Street is confident that his son, Chris, would have loved playing on the same Iowa basketball team with Jordan Bohannon and Luka Garza.
“I have no doubt that he would have liked them,” Mike said. “You’ve got to love Luka’s work ethic. I think Christopher had more athletic ability than people gave him credit for, and I think Luka does, too. So they were probably alike in that way. Christopher never took plays off. Luka was the same way. And JBo, playing through his injuries, with his attitude and his cockiness. Christopher respected the other players, but he liked to talk to them. I think he would have loved playing with Jordan and Luka.”
Bohannon and Garza shared the 2021 Chris Street Award, presented at the team’s annual awards ceremony Saturday morning at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Each year, the Street Award goes to an Iowa player who best exemplifies the spirit, enthusiasm, and intensity of Street, who died in an automobile accident on Jan. 19,1993, midway through his junior season.
Garza also shared the award with Ryan Kriener in 2020. Bohannon previously won the award in 2018. They join Adam Haluska (2005, 2006) and Jarryd Cole (2009, 2011) as the only two-time Street winners.
Bohannon, born four and a half years after Street’s passing, played his way into the hearts of the fallen Hawkeye’s family forever on the night of Feb. 25, 2018.
Three days before his death, Street made two free throws in the first half of a 65-56 loss at Duke to give him a school-record 34 straight. He wiped out the previous record of 33 held by Ben McGilmer.
Late in the first half of a game against Northwestern that February night in 2018, Bohannon made two free throws to tie Street’s record. Jordan had decided that if he ever had the chance to break the record, he would intentionally miss the free throw. He had shared his decision with members of his family.
That moment came with 2:15 to play and Iowa holding a 73-65 lead. He missed the record-breaking attempt. On purpose. He touched his chest over his heart and pointed skyward. “I know where the record deserves to stand, and that is in Chris’s name,” Bohannon said that night.
Mike Street had no idea the miss was intentional until he was told so after the game. And he said his son would have disapproved of the decision.
“He would have said, “You should have gone for that,’ ” Mike said. “ ‘I’m not special enough for that.’ ”
More than three years later, Mike will tell you that his first reaction was not a positive one when he learned that Bohannon missed on purpose.
“It kind of upset me at the time,” Mike admitted. “It was like he was degrading the record by not trying to break it. But then when I thought about why he’d done it, I understood.” Patty Street was also touched by Bohannon’s tribute to her son.
“Such a kind heart,” she said.
Last season, Bohannon went to school on a scholarship named after Street. He sent a note to the Streets thanking them.
“He wrote, “To Grandma Patty,’ ” Mike said.
Garza, who repeated as Big Ten Player of the Year and was a consensus all-American for a second straight season, also became the program’s first Consensus National Player of the Year.
He left Iowa City last weekend with a treasure trove of trophies. Some of those awards were named after some of college basketball’s most legendary names, including James Naismith, John Wooden, Oscar Robertson, Lute Olson, Pete Newell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. In Iowa, the Street name carries a reverence all its own. And that’s the last trophy Garza was presented.
“People don’t understand, but these guys don’t always have confidence,” Mike Street said. “And Luka seemed to maintain it. He’d miss a couple of three-pointers, but come right back at it. And the pressure, my gosh, people don’t seem to understand that, either. There was pressure on him to keep performing, just to keep his name out there.”
Garza elevated his game with each passing season, and got to the finish line. His professional destiny awaits.
Sadly, Chris Street never got to the finish line. The rest of his Iowa career and his professional career are a what-could-have-been discussion. But there is no debate about this. Garza has joined Street as one of the most treasured Hawkeyes of all time.
And with a sixth season of eligibility to come in 2021-22, Bohannon can add another chapter to his black-and-gold legacy. And maybe a third Street Award.