That last bit alone would make almost anyone worthy of being preserved on film, but Iverson—who spent the majority of his career with the Philadelphia 76ers—was so much more than that.
A cultural touchstone, relentless competitor and pound for pound one of the greatest players to ever grace the Association, it should come as little surprise that Iverson, at just 39 years old, is getting the biographical documentary treatment.
Iverson, directed by Zatella Beatty, is set for its television premiere on Saturday, May 16, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime. For those unable to catch the flick straightaway, here's a rundown of the upcoming TV schedule for Iverson:
|May 16||Showtime||9 p.m.|
|May 17||SHO Extreme||12 p.m.|
|May 17||SHO Extreme||7 p.m.|
|May 18||SHO 2||6:20 p.m.|
|May 20||Showtime||10 p.m.|
|May 21||Showtime Showcase||3:15 p.m.|
|May 23||SHO Extreme||8 p.m.|
|May 24||Showtime||2 p.m.|
|May 26||SHO Extreme||2:40 p.m.|
|May 27||SHO 2||10:15 p.m.|
|May 28||Showtime||5:20 p.m.|
|May 29||SHO Extreme||6:05 p.m.|
|May 30||SHO 2||1 p.m.|
Based on the trailers, the 87-minute doc promises to take a look at Iverson's upbringing, his brilliant basketball career, his role in connecting sports and hip-hop culture and—one might hope—a critical analysis of his portrayal in the media throughout various points in his career.
Showtime also teased in a tweet that the documentary might elicit strong, perhaps even surprising opinions from Iverson on the current state of the NBA:
That's high praise coming from a guy who elevated ankle-breaking to an art form.
From the looks of it, this documentary will cover a much broader scope than the ESPN "30 for 30" documentary No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson, which premiered in 2010 and focused on Iverson's trial and eventual conviction for his part in a bowling alley altercation in Hampton, Virginia, in 1993. The film did not feature any new interviews from Iverson himself.
This new documentary promises something else entirely, with more focus on his basketball talent and stardom. In a mostly positive review for Variety, Brian Lowry felt Iverson tended to let its subject grab hold and direct the narrative at times:
While the documentary features plenty of other interview subjects, including former coach Larry Brown and 76ers owner Pat Croce, Iverson is largely left to tell his story on his own terms, illustrated with plenty of dazzling footage from his prime, before a series of trades that eventually led to his retirement. As a cultural document with ramifications beyond its star, “Iverson” is certainly worthwhile. It’s in its determination to let its namesake put the best spin on things where the film occasionally takes its eye off the ball.
That criticism may be more of a matter of expectation than anything. Iverson—which debuted at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival and is produced by 214 Films, per Donald Hunt of the Philly Tribune—could play something like another basketball documentary recently featured on Showtime, Kobe Bryant's Muse.
In that doc, Kobe Bryant (who did serve as an executive producer of Muse) had the opportunity to explain himself, his mythology and major events in his life in an intimate manner rarely afforded to a star athlete in the day-to-day sports media cycle.
The opportunity for Iverson to present his view and opinions on his life and career removed from his capacity as an employee of the NBA should hold plenty of merit. Iverson is far from perfect, but his life in the spotlight has been far from simple.
Iverson never won an NBA championship, but he left an indelible mark on the league. The documentary will likely satiate his fans' desire to hear more from the fallen star, and it will hopefully provide greater context and exploration to an enduring figure in the world of sports and popular culture.