The Museum of the African Diaspora will screen the short documentary The Queen of Basketball via Zoom on January 25, from 6:00 – 7: 15 pm. A Filmmaker Discussion will follow the screening. The conversation will feature the film’s director, Academy Award nominee Ben Proudfoot, and his cinematographer for the project, Brandon Somerhalder. Sundance Award recipient Peter Nicks will moderate the discussion.
The Queen of Basketball lends an endearing and inspirational glimpse into the story of Lusia “Lucy” Harris, a basketball Hall of Famer who became the first woman to be officially drafted into the NBA in 1977 when the New Orleans Jazz (now known as the Utah Jazz) selected her in the 7th round pick. One of the greatest basketball players of all time, she was also the first to score in women’s Olympic basketball, which she did against Tokyo at the 1976 Montréal games.
In the film, Harris recounts her days on Mississippi’s Delta State women’s basketball team, which she carried to 3 national championships.
“The men’s team didn’t sell out as well as the women’s team. We began to travel on airplanes. As a matter of fact, the men didn’t fly. I guess the women were bringing in the money,” Harris says, her warm brown eyes twinkling with glee and an endearing modesty.
How is it that Harris historic achievements live in obscurity today? This beguiling question is explored in Proudfoot’s intimate and emotionally resonant 22 minute film, which is on the short list for this year’s Oscar nominations in the Short Documentary category. It was created as part of The New York Times’ op-doc series Almost Famous, an anthology that delves into the lives of individuals who have had a great impact on history, yet whose accomplishments remain largely unknown.
Shaquille O’Neal Executive Produced The Queen of Basketball, and was committed to giving Harris her long deserved “red carpet moment.”
“For me, [The Queen of Basketball] is a triumph in resurrecting the career of one of the greatest American athletes of the 20th century,” O’Neal said to For The Win writer Bryan Kalbrosky. “But it’s also tragic because it reminds us of what we had lost.”
After the film is screened, award-winning filmmaker Peter Nicks (director of The Waiting Room and other critically acclaimed films) will moderate a conversation between the director of the short documentary, Ben Proudfoot, and his frequent partner and fellow USC alum, cinematographer Brandon Somerhalder.
Harris passed away last week, on January 18, at age 66.
And you can watch The Queen of Basketball here.