The Queen of Basketball Gives Lusia Harris Her Long-Overdue Flowers

If you've never heard of Lusia Harris, The Queen of Basketball seeks to resolve that problem.

Illustration for article titled The Queen of Basketball Gives Lusia Harris Her Long-Overdue Flowers
Image: Breakwater Studios

If you have no idea who Lusia “Lucy” Harris is, you’re not alone.

Thankfully, since we live in a day and age in which Google is free, a quick search will reveal that the 66-year-old was a basketball prodigy in a past life. She won three consecutive national championships while attending Delta State University, took home a gold medal after the ‘75 Pan Am Games, held it down for the U.S. National Team in the ‘76 Olympics, and also holds the unique distinction of being the first and only woman to be drafted by an NBA team—courtesy of the Utah Jazz.


In short, homegirl was the truth; as evidenced by her induction into both the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999 and becoming one of the first women inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992.

So why in the hell has nobody ever heard of her? That’s an excellent question that director Ben Proudfoot seeks to answer with his latest documentary, The Queen of Basketball.

“When I first googled Lucy’s name at the suggestion of a colleague and learned how she was the first and only woman officially drafted to the NBA, how she had scored the first basket in women’s Olympic history, and how, as a young Black woman from a tiny town and college in the Mississippi Delta, she led her team to three national titles in the mid-’70s—I wondered how I had never heard of her, and where she was today,” Proudfoot said in a statement provided to The Root. “And when I had the opportunity to visit with her at her home in Mississippi, it became clear that Lucy’s story was much more than just a basketball story, and Lucy [is] far more than an elite athlete and pioneer, but a gifted and open storyteller with a clarion memory.”

The Queen of Basketball is the culmination of tireless hours of scouring for archival footage—Proudfoot’s team digitized nearly 10,000 film negatives and 16,000 feet of film that was culled from dozens of uncatalogued boxes discovered in the vaults of Harris’ alma mater—insightful interviews, and a fervent desire to give Harris her much-deserved flowers.

Check out the trailer for the film below.

Menace to supremacy. Founder of Extraordinary Ideas and co-host and producer of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Impatiently waiting for y'all to stop putting sugar in grits.



Wow a real pioneer.....SALUTE! Cant wait to check it out