'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 recall center Tiago Splitter from D-League

Sixers recall center Tiago Splitter from D-League

The Sixers added some much-needed frontcourt depth Monday, recalling veteran center Tiago Splitter from the D-League.

Splitter, 32, averaged 6.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in two games with the Delaware 87ers. It was his first game action since Jan. 31, 2016. He's missed significant time with a calf injury.

The Sixers acquired Splitter from the Atlanta Hawks on Feb. 22 in the Ersan Ilyasova trade. They could use his presence in the paint defensively with Joel Embiid out for the season, Nerlens Noel in Dallas and Jahlil Okafor missing games with knee soreness. 

Richaun Holmes has started with Okafor out, and when he comes out he's been replaced by 6-foot-9 Shawn Long. (Long has had three solid games in a row, averaging 15.3 points and 7.7 rebounds against the Thunder, Bulls and Pacers.)

Sixers head coach Brett Brown is a fan of the little things Splitter can provide.

"I think that his fitness most stood out as the negative," Brown said last week. "I think the physicality that he does and what he does well -- he is an elite screen-setter, he is an elite roller, he's an elite passer -- you see hints of that again. But the fact does remain he hasn't played in 13 months."

Experience in Serbia has Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot unfazed by NBA pressure

Experience in Serbia has Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot unfazed by NBA pressure

NEW YORK -- Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot was unfazed when he was shifted into the Sixers' starting lineup.

"It's just a regular game," he said nonchalantly earlier this month before starting against the Clippers. 

The rookie wasn't putting on a front, either. Being tasked with guarding sharpshooter J.J. Redick in only his second NBA start wasn't daunting to him. That same confidence has been exuded on the offensive end. 

After shooting an air ball against the Celtics, Luwawu-Cabarrot followed up the miss with a three. In Oklahoma City, he got knocked down driving against Steven Adams, picked himself back up and drove again undeterred. 

It's not a case of an exaggerated ego. It's just that starting in an NBA game is tame compared to the high-stress playing situations he has been in before.

Last season, Luwawu-Cabarrot experienced extreme distractions while playing for Mega Leks in the 2016 Serbian Cup. His team defeated Partizan NIS for the title in a hostile environment. 

"It was probably 10,000 people could fit in the stands, but 12 or 13,000 people were there," Luwawu-Cabarrot said. "(They were) next to the court, in the stands, next to the bench, right behind you."

Fans lit jerseys on fire in the stands. Others threw concoctions that emitted fog when they hit the court. What looked like chaos was a championship basketball game. 

"During the game, for the example, you shoot a free throw and they throw something right in front of you," Luwawu-Cabarrot said. "So you look at the floor and you see something coming right in front of you and boom! A big fog. You need to step off the court, clean the court, maybe five minutes and then you can shoot a free throw. This was maybe the extreme part but it's kind of always like that over there."

The raucous didn't stop when the buzzer sounded. Oftentimes walking off the court involved dodging angry fans of the opposing team.   

"If you have a good game and you go through the tunnel, the people are right here and they're just screaming at you," he said. "If you do something bad during a game, like you foul one guy hard, they will maybe spit on you or throw some sodas on you. I never got it but I saw it." 

Luwawu-Cabarrot, a native of France, left Europe to enter the NBA draft last summer. The Sixers selected him 24th overall. 

The 21-year-old began this season bogged down in the depth chart and spent time in the Development League to see game action. He received a bump in playing time when the Sixers waived Hollis Thompson in January. Luwawu-Cabarrot got the nod earlier this month because of injuries and has held on to that role. 

Brett Brown has often spoken of how rare it is for a player at that selection to log as many minutes as Luwawu-Cabarrot has. Even after playing sporadically to start the season, Luwawu-Cabarrot ranks 12th among fellow rookies from his draft class in total minutes.

"I think starting him has empowered him," Brett Brown said. 

Luwawu-Cabarrot's defense is ahead of his offense. He is averaging 8.8 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 25.7 minutes in 10 games as a starter. Brown's commonly used description for Luwawu-Cabarrot is a "track star," and that speed and athleticism can potentially impact both ends of the floor. Luwawu-Cabarrot ranks second in the NBA in average speed, behind only teammate Sergio Rodriguez.

"We coach the heck out of him defensively," Brown said of TLC. "The other stuff we give him a green light to make mistakes and shoot the ball. The defensive side is really where we feel like he's made improvements."

The Sixers have nine games left in the season. Luwawu-Cabarrot seemingly will get the start in the remainder of them. By then he will have a résumé of NBA experience to carry over into his second year. He will add it to the foundation of confidence he already had built overseas.

"First when you arrive (to Serbia) and you see that, you say what am I doing here?" Luwawu-Cabarrot said. "But after you just get used to it. So right now when the fans (heckle me), it's nothing."