Say what you will about Allen Iverson, but it cannot be denied that his was a unique talent in the NBA. Fans never saw a player exert more of an effort on the court, and for all of his faults as a player, he played every game like it was his last. Another thing that couldn’t be denied was the fact that him as a person was kind of a mystery. We knew about all of the tattoos, and the cornrows and how his general persona irked NBA executives, whether they admitted it or not.
One thing very few people knew about, especially those who became fans of Allen Iverson after seeing him in the league for a few years, was his history. Specifically the moment that defines him, and it had nothing to with basketball.
Iverson grew up in Hampton, Virginia and was a standout in football and basketball. He even led those teams to state championships in both sports. In a region that’s seen it’s fair share of superstar athletes, Iverson seemed different. No one quite dominated two sports the way he did, he seemed destined for greatness.
In a region filled with racial tension, on February 14, 1993, everything would change forever in the Virginia Peninsula. At a bowling alley, Iverson and several of his black friends were involved in an altercation with white athletes from a rival high school. Several people were injured from thrown punches and chairs and witnesses singled out Iverson as one of the instigators.
That event sparked numerous debates and conspiracy theories about whether or not Iverson was set up by a rival school, or if it was just simple racism. Who stood to gain from Iverson’s incarceration, and what would happen to his chances of a successful future?
Filmmaker Steve James happens to be from that area and remembers seeing Allen Iverson in high school and he of course remembers all of these events so that only helped to bring a level authenticity to the documentary while still doing a great job of remaining neutral on Iverson’s guilt or lack thereof. The people he wrangled for interviews on camera all provided interesting points of view of the events from both the actual altercation, the events afterward, even insights into Iverson’s personality and sense of responsibility toward his family.
There are a lot of interesting questions when it comes to Allen Iverson. At just 6 feet tall, is he inch-for-inch the greatest NBA talent we’ve ever seen? Is he an icon, or a thug in basketball shorts? Luckily we’ve all gotten the chance to see one of the greatest talents ever on a basketball court, and many of us aren’t aware of the moment that nearly robbed us all of that opportunity. Whether Allen Iverson was guilty or not, this documentary tells us more about Allen Iverson than we ever knew, and one way or another this might just change how you feel about the enigmatic superstar.
We give No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson a 3.5 stars out of 5. It’s a good documentary, and doesn’t have as much sports content in it as some of the other 30 for 30 docs, but if you’re an Iverson fan, or even an Iverson hater. You should see this film.