Fall Semester 2010
Dr. Rich Miller
Essay #2: The Last Shot
The dream of creating a greater life for oneself and family through the game of basketball is not restricted to any time or place in American history. As long as there is a court, there lies the opportunity to experience the hoop dream. For the likes of Tchaka, Russell, Corey, and Bill Russell, their paths may have been different, but their struggle for greatness in the ever-shrinking window of the hoop dream is all too familiar. The Last Shot by Darcy Frey chronicles the lives of three basketball players and their struggle on the streets of Coney Island, New York in the early 1990’s. The book covers eight months of the journey of Tchaka Shipp, Russell Thomas, and Corey Johnson as they ward off the temptations of agents, college coaches, and drug lords in the ruthless city of Coney Island. Frey follows these athletes from the conclusion of their junior year at Abraham Lincoln High School through their senior year, allowing the reader to watch their growth as athletes, as well as their trials in attempting to realize the hoop dream.
For both the Coney Island classmates and Bill Russell, there was a limiting factor that in their time and place prevented them from reaching their full potential of success in the game of basketball. In the case of Corey, Russell, and in a lesser sense Tchaka, it was their intelligence in the classroom. Being raised in an inner-city educational environment such as the one provided by Coney Island is an entirely detrimental experience for those who are looking to experience a higher education at some point in their lives. There were multiple occasions in the story that alluded to the players’ inability to score high enough on their SAT’s as the reason for being unable to play for a Division I team in the NCAA. However, their failure to score a 700, the required threshold to stay eligible for a Division 1 scholarship, was no fault of their own. “But...