Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Iowa basketball player Chris Street. The junior from Indianola had already picked up All-Big Ten honorable mention recognition, and according to many, was on his way to a career in the NBA until he died in a car accident on snowy Iowa City road during his junior season.
Former Hawkeye guard James Moses played with Street for two seasons, and says that Street exemplified many values of typical Iowans through his work ethic. “He embodies what Iowa is all about. He embodied work ethic to the fullest, he was a hard worker,” Moses says. “From a basketball standpoint he earned the minutes that our coach, coach Davis, gave him. He wasn’t one who felt a sense of entitlement, which is remarkable in a person.”
Mac McCausland also spent a lot of time around Street as the color commentator for many Iowa games in the early 90s. McCausland remembers exactly where he was when he heard the news of Street’s death. “I was coaching an AAU team and one of our players came in late and of course I was jumping as to why he came in late and he said he was watching TV to find out how Christ Street died. Of course I didn’t believe him,” McCausland says.
He says they all went to the team room to watch TV and he remembers the players all wanting to play like Chris to remember him. McCausland says Street had a rare ability to be relatable for Iowans of all ages. “He just always had a smile. He had one of those charismas that people just liked him,” McCausland says.
He says opponents and fans all liked Street and he was the typical Iowa boy. Moses says that Street combined natural gifts with the ability to make the most of his opportunities.
“Chris prepared for his opportunity. Coach Davis gave him an opportunity to be a starter as a freshman and Chris prepared hard to put himself in that position,” Moses says. He says if kids look at that approach to an opportunity, that is what will continue to make kids special.
While Street was known around Iowa and the rest of the Big Ten, Moses thinks Street would have received more national recognition if he played today. “I think he would have been given a lot more publicity if you will, because of today’s media. We would have seen a person who could have entered the draft,” Moses says.
Moses is now the head basketball coach at Cedar Rapids Prairie, and says he sees a lot of the same qualities that made Street special in many of the players around the state of Iowa. He says Street’s spirit shines through in a lot of Iowans and in the way they play the game.
Iowa plans to honor Street during their game against Wisconsin Saturday. Gary Close, the former Iowa assistant who helped recruit Street, is now an assistant for the Badgers.
By Jesse Gavin KCNZ Cedar Falls