April 14, 2010

Kobe and Allen

ESPN last night happened to air two different documentaries last night about basketball players with ties to the Philadelphia area- an "E:60" segment about Kobe Bryant and his relationship with Philly and the "30 For 30" documentary on Allen Iverson, "No Crossover: the Trial of Allen Iverson."

The latter first- it was one of the better docs in the series, directed by Steve James of the legendary "Hope Dreams." Like all the best of the "30 For 30" films, "No Crossover" took a look at a story from awhile ago that we all sort of remember, and gave it a lot of detail and perspective.

The film was a detailed and very fair look at Iverson's mid-'90s trial, and I liked that James wasn't afraid to take a nuanced and complex look at both the racial dynamic of the situation and the facts of the case itself. Even after watching it, I'm not sure whether or not Iverson was guilty of the crime- although it's pretty clear his sentence was excessive.

This documentary's bench of fascinating interview subjects is also about ten-deep, from local community activists to journalists to James' own mother. And James involving himself and his family didn't come across as self-indulgent the way it does for Michael Moore and Nick Broomfield.

In all, one of the best "30 For 30" movies, I only liked the Baltimore Colts band and Reggie Miller/Knicks ones more.

But how could ESPN broadcast this during Confederate History Month? Isn't it offensive to "the real Virginia"?

As for Kobe, two things jumped out at me about the E:60 piece- one, the racial element of the Kobe-hate in Philly was completely left out of the segment (the whole McNabb thing- where certain white people hate him for being black and certain black people hate him for being not-black-enough- applies to Kobe as well). And two, Kobe's rape accusation wasn't even mentioned. Will there be a newsmagazine piece in six or seven years about some other aspect of Tiger Woods' life, that completely omits the sex scandal? I think maybe there will be.

Still, the segment was worlds better than Spike Lee's Kobe documentary a couple years ago, which was essentially a propaganda film arguing that Kobe isn't a jerk and his teammates actually like him.

The 700 Level has more. And I love the first comment.

Posted by Stephen Silver at April 14, 2010 05:23 PM
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