'Iverson' documentary a fresh take on Sixers icon

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'Iverson' documentary a fresh take on Sixers icon

"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."

On 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 Beatty and co-produced with Mandalay Sports Media and Moore Entertainment, is a 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.

Beatty spends time with Iverson’s childhood friends, teachers and coaches to focus on his upbringing in Hampton, Va. 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. A.I., 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.”

Sixers Injury Update: Simmons rolls ankle, taken for precautionary imaging

Sixers Injury Update: Simmons rolls ankle, taken for precautionary imaging

GALLOWAY, N.J. -- Ben Simmons rolled his right ankle during scrimmage on the final day of training camp. He was taken for precautionary imaging. The results have not yet been completed.

Jerryd Bayless did not scrimmage because of a sore left wrist, which the team continues to monitor. He sat out of Thursday's scrimmage for the same reason.

Jahlil Okafor participated in Friday's scrimmage in accordance to his load management. The Sixers are being cautious with players as they return from injury. Okafor underwent right knee surgery last season. 

Sergio Rodriguez ready for 'opportunity' of 2nd NBA stint

Sergio Rodriguez ready for 'opportunity' of 2nd NBA stint

GALLOWAY, N.J. — It’s Round 2 for Sergio Rodriguez.

Ten years after beginning his first stint in the NBA, he is back as a veteran point guard on the Sixers. The green 20-year-old is now 30, with European and Olympic experience behind him. Rodriguez is looking to build upon his previous four NBA seasons, which culminated in 2010, in a leadership role in Philadelphia.

“It feels great,” Rodriguez said Thursday after the training camp morning session at Stockton University. “It’s a second opportunity for me.”

Rodriguez played three seasons for the Trail Blazers from 2009-10 and split his fourth year with the Kings and Knicks. He averaged a quiet 4.3 points, 2.9 assists and 1.3 rebounds in 13.2 minutes per game. Rodriguez returned to his native Spain and found a higher level of success, including winning the EuroLeague title with Real Madrid, being named EuroLeague MVP, and competing in the Olympics. Last season Rodriguez averaged 10.9 points (40.9 percent from three), 6.2 assists and 2.2 rebounds in 24 minutes for Real Madrid. 

Head coach Brett Brown considers Rodriguez one of the top point guards that had played in Europe. 

“He just has a real gift for understanding, especially offensive tempo,” Brown said. “I think that his ability to run a pick-and-roll and figure out how teams are playing it and where they’re rotating from about a pass sooner, one dribble sooner so he can pick off rotations. He’s very gifted in that environment. I think he’s got a bounce to his game and a pace to his game that he will be absorbed in how I want to play well.”

Both Brown and Rodriguez anticipate challenges on the defensive end as Rodriguez re-acclimates himself in the NBA. He will be tasked with guarding some of the league’s toughest point guards, and will also be involved in numerous pick-and-rolls each game. 

After years of playing in Spain, Rodriguez has to get to know a new group of players. He considers the responsibility of a point guard to be getting his entire team involved, particularly with all the youth on the SIxers.

“I will try to feel comfortable for my teammates. For a point guard, you need to have the confidence that everybody is happy playing with you,” Rodriguez said, also noting, “Always the point guard has to run the show. Especially for this team, we have so many young players that need to develop and need to know how to win.” 

So far that is working.

“Sergio’s great,” Nerlens Noel said. “He’s a real vocal leader, even with that little accent he’s got. He makes it work. I think as the season goes along, we’ll continue to get on the same page and really start to mesh a little better.” 

Rodriguez left the NBA as a young guard and is now ready to make a comeback with years of experience. 

"I’m very excited to have this upcoming season and to be successful for my team, my teammates, the organization," he said.