The Queen of Basketball, a 22-minute op-doc about Mississippian and basketball legend Lusia Harris, reeled in an Academy Award on Sunday night for short subject documentary.
Produced by Shaquille O’Neal and directed by Ben Proudfoot, the New York Times op-doc showcases the story of Harris, who was the first and only female officially drafted by the NBA.
“If there is anyone out there who doubts that there is an audience for female athletes and questions whether their stories are valuable or entertaining or important…let this Academy Award be the answer,” Proudfoot said at the award ceremony in Los Angeles.
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 being selected by the New Orleans Jazz with the 137th pick in the 1977 NBA Draft. 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 19.