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The Real Allen Iverson: Documentary a fresh take on a basketball icon

May 2, 2014, 8:33 AM EST

Allen Iverson

“I can’t satisfy everybody. I can’t be the Allen Iverson that you want me to be. The only Allen Iverson I can be is the Allen Iverson that I am.”

Last Sunday evening, Iverson attended a sold-out screening of the new documentary film ‘Iverson’ to close out the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. The film itself, an ambitious seven-year project from first-time director Zatella Beattty and co-produced with Mandalay Sports Media and Moore Entertainment, is a really strong 97-minute look at one of the most influential and fascinating NBA players of the past two decades, both on and off the court.

The film is not the first documentary about Iverson, but it is the first in which he actively participated, and it explores the crossovers, the tattoos and the brash style of “The Answer.” Perhaps most importantly, it explores Iverson’s journey, in his own words, of the pain, struggle and survival it took to become an icon for a certain generation of basketball fans.

Beattty spends time with Iverson’s childhood friends, teachers and coaches to focus on his upbringing in Hampton, Virginia. She touches on Iverson’s incarceration from a 1993 bowling alley brawl that nearly ended his athletic career. She touches on his time at Georgetown and the incredible relationship Iverson had with the city of Philadelphia, where he was the No. 1 pick of the Sixers and remains a franchise icon. She also touches on the cultural impact of a man who changed not just the game he played, but culture and life as a modern athlete.

Through it all, Iverson has had his detractors. But this film is not about soul-searching or apologizing for mistakes made. AI, as he has always been, is unapologetic in his own endearing ways.

A few highlights of the film include a lengthy explanation of the famous “Practice” rant that lives on in Iverson infamy and Iverson’s unabashed love for Tom Brokaw. For those who only saw the practice clip, what the film makes you realize is how out of context that soundbite really was (one of Iverson’s best friends had just died and the team was eliminated from the playoffs, yet he was being questioned about practice). On the Brokaw front, Iverson credits the legendary NBC newsman as telling his story of wrongful incarceration stemming from the bowling alley brawl to a wider audience, which ultimately led to his pardon from then-Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder.

“The gift of this film is that it gives kids from my neighborhood, who go through what I went through, hope,” Iverson said in a Q&A in the theater after the premiere. “If he did it, I can do it. The little dudes from around my way or little women from around my way, I want them to know they can survive regardless. And that’s it.”

  1. dacapt704 - May 2, 2014 at 8:57 AM

    2nd best “little” guard ever behind Isiah Thomas (in my opinion)

    • sonnysuave - May 2, 2014 at 11:40 AM

      AI woulda smoked Zeke! Career stats : AI 27/6/4 to Zeke 19/9/4. Sure, Zeke won 2 titles… but obviously, he had a stronger team (Dumars, Rodman, Laimbeer, Vinny, Aguirre, Mahorn, etc). Who did AI have? Snow, McKie. Nuff said.

  2. aboogy123456 - May 2, 2014 at 9:08 AM

    this looks awesome, how and when will we be able to watch it?

  3. misremembered72 - May 2, 2014 at 9:36 AM

    Iverson is Philadelphia through and through, even if he wasn’t born

    • sire2334 - May 2, 2014 at 11:00 AM

      I believe that…And a DC kid I was extremely jealous.

  4. misremembered72 - May 2, 2014 at 9:46 AM

    born here***
    he was born

  5. csbanter - May 2, 2014 at 10:12 AM

    A.I was a great talent, a lot of heart for someone his size. His career should have ended with plenty of accolades but like other stars in different sports, he ticked off a lot of people with his antics.

  6. ebrownwareagle - May 2, 2014 at 10:53 AM

    @dacapt704

    1000% AGREE!

  7. ranfan12 - May 2, 2014 at 11:28 AM

    The one and only Answer! When’s his HOF ceremony?

  8. doctordunkenstein - May 2, 2014 at 11:49 AM

    hopefully the documentary goes over how larry brown threw him under the bus right before the Practice rant…that was d**k move by LB

  9. vicksprman - May 2, 2014 at 2:13 PM

    Like misremembered says for a dude born in Virginia he was as Phiily as you could get. A Philly all timer.

  10. mitchem85 - May 2, 2014 at 3:00 PM

    Bubba chuck reppin the 757. I’m from Hampton/Newport News/Yorktown and remember when he went to bethel with my sister in the early 90’s. A lot of people don’t know he was actually a better football player than he was basketball. He was bethel’s QB and took them to states and won. He was just too small, and remember this was before the times of mike Vick.(also from the 757) he didn’t have an easy upbringing but he made the best of it. He wasn’t always the nicest person but I think he’s learned as he’s gotten older. Still see him around the area every once in a while.

  11. afraz89 - May 2, 2014 at 3:29 PM

    Proud he was a Sixer.

  12. dirtydavis - May 2, 2014 at 4:10 PM

    A.I is garbage. This ball hog never elevated his teammates game like LBJ, Shaq, Duncan did. This clown aint no champion he is not even a good teammate or a great motivator. This is the clown who won the bronze medal for team USA and ran Larry Brown out of town. Pfft the hell with this documentary. HE IS NOT EVEN CONSIDER IN THE TOP TEN LIST OF PG/G/SG. Starbury is better players and motivator than A.I. The man did lead a team to a championship in his first season.

    • dirtydavis - May 2, 2014 at 4:13 PM

      Starbury did lead his team to the championship in his first season as coach. Someone who shot below 43% is not a team player nor is he great. In other words thank god this clown is gone. We are never going to see a statue, 5 years from now he is not even going to be mention.

    • duhwighthoward - May 2, 2014 at 4:56 PM

      Starbury won a championship?

      In China?

  13. jman2020 - May 2, 2014 at 5:30 PM

    AI is one of da greatest of all time u try leading a team with eric snow,tyrone hill,keith vanhorn,and arron mckee as ur teammates for 10yrs and lets check ur attitude at da end of each night dude influenced a whole generation hands down

  14. imakcds - May 3, 2014 at 10:33 AM

    The first time I ever heard about Iverson was all I truth I needed to know about him.
    Sports Illustrated reported on some high school phenom causing a riot at a bowling alley on his birthday. Yep. a young A.I.

  15. imakcds - May 3, 2014 at 10:35 AM

    I hate that this HOODLUM is idolized, he does not deserve respect from the Civilized World, a world that is foreign to him

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