Book Review: “The Last Shots: City Streets, Basketball Dreams”

"The Last Shot.." proves that sometimes the best stories are where we least expect to find them

“The Last Shot..” proves that sometimes the best stories are where we least expect to find them.    Photo:

In the non-fictional work “The Last Shot: City Streets, Basketball Dreams”, the author Darcy Frey takes his reader to a dark, isolated part of New York City, which every self-respecting New Yorker avoids – Coney Island.

In his book, Frey concentrates on the only thing that could bring an outsider to the poverty-struck, drug-infiltrated island and, on the other hand, the only product of Coney Island that sells outside of its borders – basketball. For its young residents, however, basketball is more than entertainment, much more – it is the only alternative to the triad of street life, drugs-imprisonment-death.

Frey follows the performance of the three senior stars of Coney Island’s Abraham Lincoln High School basketball team – Tchaka Schipp, Russell Thomas and Corey Johnson – and freshman sensation Stephon Marbury during the summer of 1991 and the 1991/1992 school year.

By describing experiences he shared with each of them, the author portrays the distinct personality of each of those players, especially the first three. He also describes their dreams for the future, ranging from academic success and middle-class lifestyle to the bright lights, sports cars and rest of the package that comes with NBA stardom. The dreams of all these young men, however, start at the same place – college. And for the unfortunate, under-educated and opportunity-deprived Schipp, Thomas, and Johnson – even Marbury – there is only one road to college – NCAA Division I basketball.

Over the course of the months that he spends with these players, Frey describes every step on the way to the NCAA –  traveling to multiple of summer leagues and camps; reaching the required 700 score on the SAT test; maintaining certain grade average – and the difficulties the players face getting there.

He pays special attention to the never-ending and gruelling recruiting that each player has to endure and reveals interesting experiences with the infamous process.

On the side, Frey provides the reader with the notorious past of Coney Island and describes how much basketball means to the entire community.

Although not a novel, “The Last Shot: City Streets, Basketball Dreams” is a of dreams, high hopes, successes and failures, and continuous fight against fate, which will appeal to basketball fans and other readers alike.




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