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“The Queen of Basketball” Displays the Achievements of Lusia Harris
By Amanda Scurlock, Sports Editor
Published April 7, 2022

LUSIA “LUCY” HARRIS – THE QUEEN OF BASKETBALL – courtesy of New York Times Op-Docs/Breakwater Studios

The Museum of Tolerance recently hosted a screening of the documentary short film “The Queen of Basketball.” NBA icons Shaquille O’Neal and Stephen Curry were executive producers of the film.

“The Queen of Basketball” is about the history of Lusia “Lucy” Harris who was heralded as one of the best female basketball players in the country.  When the Olympics added women’s basketball, Harris was the first to score during their inaugural game.

Curry introduced the film during the virtual event, calling Harris an “incredible woman” and an ”American hero.”

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“Her life story moved me and inspired me and we all hope through this film, her name and her legacy will be remembered forever,” Curry said.

Harris was the first Olympian to score a basketball in the history of women’s Olympic basketball – courtesy of New York Times Op-Docs/Breakwater Studios

The documentary is part of a series called “Op-Docs” created by the New York Times.

After the screening, there was a Q&A panel discussion, the panelist included film director Ben Proudfoot, editor Stephanie Owens, WNBA player Imani McGee-Stafford and Harris’ daughter Crystal Washington-Stewart.

Proudfoot admired the work of the panel moderator Lindsay Crouse, who is a senior commissioning producer at the New York Times. Crouse covers the disparities between men’s and women’s sports.

“This person is clearly one of the most accomplished basketball players ever because they’re all singular achievements,” Proudfoot said about Harris. “I couldn’t find any footage of her playing, her name is often misspelled, it just seemed like history hadn’t given Lucy the respect she deserved.”

Harris competed in the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics. – courtesy of New York Times Op-Docs/Breakwater Studios

“The Queen of Basketball” ultimately won an Oscar for Best Short Documentary. When accepting the award, Proudfoot demanded that president Joe Biden get WNBA star Brittney Griner out of Russia.

From 1974-1977, Harris competed for the Delta State Lady Statesmen basketball team. Women’s sports were governed by the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) at that time. Harris led the Lady Statesmen to three AIAW championships; Harris also won three AIAW Tournament MVP awards.

Washington-Stewart, who also played basketball, idolized O’Neal while she was growing up.

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“In hindsight, my idol should have been my own mother because she was just a dominating force, but we never knew, we never got to see that,” she said.

Harris helped the Delta State women’s basketball team win three AIAW championships- courtesy of New York Times Op-Docs/Breakwater Studios

Like Washington-Stewart, McGee-Stafford has also had not seen her mother play basketball until long after her career was over. Being a second-generation WNBA player, McGee-Stafford recognizes the privilege she has.

“She literally was the building blocks for what my mom was able to do and what I’m able to do,” she said about Harris. “Being able to hear her story in her words and just understand is amazing. I think it’s very important that these stories are told.”

Owens found joy in listening to Harris’ interview with Proudfoot and wanted to focus on her achievements as a player when editing the documentary. What also caught her eye while looking through archival footage was her mannerisms and bond with her teammates.

“I also was really drawn to the minutes in between her actual playing because I felt it really shows her genuine personality,” Owens said. “When they win, you see how she pushes another player to come up with her because she’s always sharing the spotlight.”

Categories: Basketball | Sports
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