Both are recruited into the same elite high school as their idol, former Detroit Piston superstar Isaiah Thomas. Only one survives the first year; the other must return to a high school closer to his home. Along the way, there is much tragedy, some joy, a great wealth of information about inner city life, and the suspense of not knowing what will occur next.
The rich texture of Hoop Dreams' drama is its greatest asset. This is a film that goes beyond the verisimilitude of something to come from the pen of Spike Lee or John Singleton, into the realm of real life. The shattered illusions of William and Arthur are all the more poignant because these are not the dividends of a screenwriter's fertile imagination. And the drug deals depicted are chilling for exactly the same reason.