What is spectacular about "Basketball Diaries", you ask? The acting, for one, is superb. Leonardo DeCaprio is at once, cool-minded, suave, insightful, and, (playing a character who was once revered for his skills on the basketball court and in writing but who faces a serious drug problem), deadly accurate in playing the role of what drugs and taking a wrong turn can do to a person. The plot starts off pleasantly enough. Leo is an aspiring writer living in the poor side of New York City. He is a star athlete who hangs around three buddies---all with goals of mischief, basketball, and being just boys. One fateful night, one pal introduces the easily influenced Leo to drugs and sex......and the plot then focus almost exclusively on his downward spiral of a new life filled with drugs, hustling, theft, and homelessness. He, along with another addict friend (played by Mark Walburg---who is also a serious character actor and excellent), quit school, leave home and turn into thugs. The aspiring writer can no longer function; he is derilict, dependant on herion and crack, and without a family. And it is here that DeCaprio displays a superb range of acting skills. He is so believable in his reactions to life on the streets, in crack houses, and the wild display of emotion, of self-hatred, of dispair is beautifully portrayed. In fact, I found myself often shaking my head at the life thrown away. Though the story ends on a positive note and with a wake-up call, the themes of how a single life can take a disasterous turn in one night is strongly felt. I agree with what one other reviewer says: the message of this movie actually "screams" to teenagers that drugs are evil, as is throwing one's life down the drain, along with all hope, opportunity, and a potentially bright future. Between the acting, the storyline, and the turns in plot, "Basketball Diaries" is a great movie. I highly recommend this intelligent film.