University of Iowa Sophomore Jordan Bohannon walked to the free-throw line and nervously looked into the stands to make eye contact with his older brother, Zach.
Bohannon was on the verge of breaking a record of 34 consecutive free throws that had stood for 25 years by a legendary Hawkeye, Chris Street.
Everyone knew it would happen. Jordan had once hit 200 consecutive free throws in practice.
So, with 2:15 to go in the game. And Iowa leading Northwestern 73-65, Jordan eyed the rim. Took his customary 4 dribbles. Bent his knees. And let it fly.
Yes, he intentionally short-armed it and the ball bounced off the front of the rim.
Bohannon told the Big Ten Network after the game “that’s not my record to have.” He said that it “deserves to stay in (Street’s) name.”
You see Chris Street was tragically killed in an automobile accident, January 19, 1993. Three days earlier he had made two free throws to make it 34 in a row. But never got a chance at number 35.
“Chris wasn’t just a Hawkeye,” 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.”
So, Jordan, who had thought about doing this for quite a while, choose to honor Street’s legacy by allowing his record to stand. “It was a touching tribute from one Iowa born Hawkeye to another,” wrote Chad Leistikow in the Des Moines Register.
Bohannon had become friends of Street’s parents, who are regular season ticket holders, and was present for the game. Patty Street said she was moved to tears by the gesture. “What a good kid. He’s so kind,” she said. “That was so special that he thought of Christopher and that record.”
Mike Street had told people who asked leading up to this that he wanted Bohannon, a hard-working player like his son was, to break Chris’ mark. But he understood and treasured the tribute.
In an age of chest thumping, muscle flexing, finger pointing athletes constantly preening for the camera, this is a refreshing story. It reminds us that maybe not “all records are made to be broken.” As Jordan, who finished with 25 points, tweeted after the game “Life is much bigger than basketball.”
This also reminds me of Paul’s words in Philippians 2:3-4. “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
It’s one thing to read those words in a Bible class or in the privacy of your home, it’s quite another to actually live them. To do something in a concrete way that elevates another person. Honors them. And puts their interests ahead of your own.
Think of the many opportunities we have to humbly “esteem others better than ourselves” in our families? In our churches? In our communities? In our jobs? In our daily interactions with other people?
Life is bigger than basketball. Or our homes. Our hobbies. Our professions. Our success. And our own little world of personal achievement.
In a Forbes article about Bohannon, Don Yeager wrote, “The truly Great embrace the idea of being a role model and act accordingly. Honesty and loyalty will translate into longevity and success for anyone in any field, but more important, they are qualities that can influence others and make a difference in people’s lives.”
“Whoever desires to be great among you, let him be your servant” (Mk 10:43).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman
(Note: A special thanks to David Tant for sharing this story and encouraging me to write about it.)