Crossing Over: The Trial of Allen Iverson
Few athletes of my generation conjure up as many emotions as Allen Iverson. Ask one person what they think about Allen Iverson and they will tell you about his Hall of Fame credentials: 10 time All Star, 2000-2001 NBA MVP, and 1996-1997 Rookie of the Year. Ask another and they will talk only of his cornrows, tattoos, and legendary rant against practice. One side will praise his four scoring titles as doing what he needed to do to carry bad teams. The other side will dismiss them as evidence of his selfishness. Google “Allen Iverson” and “thug” and you will receive 105,000 hits.
Crossing Over: The Trial of Allen Iverson aims to look deeper into these deeply divided opinions of one of the generation’s greatest athletes. The film, directed by Hoop Dreams director Steve James, studies the 1993 brawl and subsequent criminal trial that put Allen Iverson in prison and divided a small Virginia community along racial lines. Iverson haters should be warned, this film may change your perception of the man.
The film uses the basic facts surrounding Iverson’s 1993 trial as the jumping off point to explore how racism impacted not only the case but the overall perception of Iverson going forward. Allen Iverson would be sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in a 1993 bowling alley brawl. For many this is when their negative opinion of Iverson took shape. In watching this film, you quickly realize that this perception is misguided. The film does a wonderful job of presenting the many injustices that took place in the course of this trial, and why race played such a prominent role. When you consider that a 17 year old black athlete was sentenced to 15 years in prison for a high school fight, you realize that there had to be something more at play.
Allen Iverson did not endorse or directly participate in the making of this film. That’s unfortunate, because there may never be anything that forces one to reconsider their opinion of the man more than this film will. You realize exactly what he had to overcome just to make it into college, let alone become a 10 time All-Star. There have been rumors of late that Iverson is facing serious alcohol and gambling problems. After watching this film, one can only hope he will bounce back.