If you weren’t able to catch The Queen of Basketball on the big screen last week, we’ve got you covered.
The 22-minute New York Times op-doc is about Mississippian and basketball legend Lusia Harris. Produced by Shaquille O’Neal and directed by Ben Proudfoot, the film recently received an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary.
Harris, the first women’s basketball superstar of the modern era, was born in Minter City, Mississippi in 1955. After playing at Amanda Elzy High School in Greenwood, she went on to lead Delta State to three consecutive AIAW national titles from 1975-1977.
Harris was a three-time All-American at Delta State before becoming the second-ever female selected in the NBA Draft when the New Orleans Jazz selected her with the 137th pick in 1977. Denise Long was drafted in 1969 by the San Francisco Warriors. The pick was later voided by the NBA. Thus, Harris was the first and only female officially drafted by the NBA.
Harris was selected ahead of 36 male players but never tried out for the team due to being pregnant. She later played briefly for the Houston Angels of the Women’s Professional Basketball League (WBL).
The 6-foot-3 post player was also the first U.S. women’s player to score in the Olympics. She still holds Delta State’s record for points (2,891) and rebounds (1,662), averaging 25.9 points and 14.5 rebounds per game over her career.
Post-playing days, Harris worked at Delta State before becoming the head coach at Texas Southern University. She was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992.
Harris passed away on January 18 at the age of 66.
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