Editorial: Chris Collins’ embrace of Boo Buie was a moving March Madness moment

The NCAA basketball tournament is a win-or-go-home event. That can produce human stories as inspirational as they are dramatic.

Point guard Boo Buie’s final game as a Northwestern Wildcat qualified as one of those. With a little over a minute left, coach Chris Collins took Buie out of a second-round game in which NU was overmatched against the top-ranked Connecticut Huskies.

What followed was a heart-warming embrace between coach and star player in which Collins was struggling to hold back tears and clearly saying, “I love you. You’re like family.” Buie then went down the line of assistant coaches and players, hugging each in turn.

For Northwestern, Buie (along with Collins) took the program to places it had never achieved, qualifying for two straight NCAA tournament berths. Buie chose to return to Evanston for his last season of eligibility despite the ability of college players through the transfer portal to switch to squads better positioned to vie for a championship.

Apart from what Buie meant to NU, he was one of the most exciting athletes on the Chicago scene in recent years, with ball-handling, shooting and passing skills that were a marvel. Since he played in Evanston, much of that performance took place under the national radar.

The Big Ten took notice, though. Buie was a unanimous first-team all-conference player this season, the first time anyone in purple has achieved that distinction.

Boo Buie’s basketball career is far from over. In the meantime, he’s given Collins and Northwestern basketball the kind of boost that could mean the team’s next superstar won’t be such a well-kept secret.