Tuesday, April 13, 2010


The latest documentary in the excellent ESPN "30 for 30" series debuted Tuesday and "No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson" did not disappoint.

The world does not know much about Allen Iverson. We know he loves Philadelphia and we've heard how much he loves practice but he has, for the most part, remained a mystery since he came into the league in 1996. "No Crossover" gives us a intimate look into an event that changed 17-year-old Iverson's life.

Iverson, who was then a skinny high school kid, was bowling with a group of friends on Valentine's Day 1993. Somehow an argument erupted into a huge brawl, pitting Iverson and his young black friends against a group of older white men.

While the film does give great incites into Iverson's background, the main theme is the racial divisions in his hometown of Hampton, Virginia. Iverson was charged with "maiming by mob"(which was originally conceived to combat lynching; Iverson was charged this for throwing a chair at someone). A.I. was only 17 but he was charged as an adult. The trial showed the clear racism that was still alive in the town and, according to residents, still haunts the town.

Director Steve James, who also directed the great 1994 documentary "Hoop Dreams," does a great job of balancing Iverson's background with the issues of racism. He provides voiceover, showing a deep understanding and passion for the topic. James raised a topic that everyone knows still exists but nobody wants to talk about. There is something to learn in this film; not just for sports fans but for everyone.

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