The First Shot

From Coney Island asphalt to NBA hardwood, Stephon Marbury's taken care of business -- and changed the game.

Updated: April 17, 2003, 1:06 PM ET
By Luke Cyphers and Chris Palmer, ESPN The Magazine
To understand Stephon Marbury, first understand Coney Island, where he grew up.

A century ago, the narrow strip of Brooklyn beach and boardwalk gave birth to modern American pop culture: city-size theme parks and sexy electric nightlife and moving pictures and freak shows that make today's reality TV look like The Brady Bunch. Coney Island broke new ground for what entertainment could be, and how money could be made. When Steeplechase, one of Coney's three great amusement parks, burned down in 1907, the owner put up a sign: "Admission to the Burning Ruins -- Ten Cents." At Dreamland, paying customers viewed premature babies in experimental incubators.

Luke Cyphers is a former senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.