We Asked Northwestern’s Men’s Basketball Team Where They Were When Gene Wilder Died

In honor of Bee-One-Gee basketball starting up again, our dedicated sports journalists here at The Flipside asked our own Wildcat Men’s Basketball Team where they were when Gene Wilder died.

Brooks Barnhizer: I was at home with my family, when suddenly we got the call to turn the TV on to the news. I almost couldn’t believe my eyes, that he was really gone. I knew right then and there that our country would never be the same.

Ty Berry: I was in Norris at the time, drinking a latte-

(Editor’s Note: this was back when the Norris Starbucks used to be on the first floor lounge rather than in the basement. We understand that this could be confusing for some readers.)

-when the TV in the lounge suddenly switched to a picture of Gene’s face. I just remember looking at those smile lines around his eyes, how well-worn they were from decades of making us, the people, smile…and how he would never do so again.

Ryan Langborg: I was playing Fortnite with some of the guys, then I got a notif on my phone that Gene had died. I immediately logged off the game and just kinda sat in my bedroom for a while, staring at my poster of Mel Brooks’ The Producers. I still can’t play Fortnite without thinking about Gene.

Matthew Nicholson: I kinda divide my life into two portions, those being before and after Gene died. Like, before, the world was brighter, and much more full of hope. Now, I don’t know if I can say the same. My friends invited me to see the Timothee Chalamet Wonka movie and I almost burst into tears.

Boo Buie: In a way, Gene was who got me to start playing basketball. Every shot I make on that court, it’s for Gene. When I was debating coming back for a fifth year, I – this is gonna sound ridiculous – I looked to the heavens and asked Gene what to do.

“Go forth, my child.” He said. “Lead Northwestern to victory, in my honor.” “Thank you, spirit of Gene Wilder,” I said. Then I rewatched Young Frankenstein.

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