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‘The Queen of Basketball’, an Oscar award for a forgotten queen

The story of Lusia Harris and her majestic basketball lost in time

The night of the Oscars in LA saw the triumph in the category Best Documentary (short subject) of the movie ‘The Queen of Basketball’.

Produced by sacred monsters of men’s basketball past and present such as Shaquille O’Neal and Steph Curry, this documentary directed by Canadian filmmaker Ben Proudfoot chronicles the forgotten exploits of Lusia Harris.

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Born in deep Mississipi and raised with six siblings near a well-worn home basketball hoop, ‘Queen Lucy’ literally changed women’s basketball throughout the 1970s.

Over six feet tall, soft and polite hands, a physical power balanced by a natural elegance: these ante-litteram characteristics shocked the USA sports environment and saw her college, the tiny Delta State University, rise to the position of invincible Cinderella in the national panorama.

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Harris’ success and fame reached its peak during the 1976 Montreal Olympics, when the 21-year-old center scored the first basket in the history of women’s Olympic basketball, and the following summer, when she was selected in the NBA Draft by the New Orleans Jazz. At that time, in fact, there were no female professional leagues and ‘Queen Lucy’ was considered equal to her male colleagues.

However, Lusia decided to refuse the NBA opportunity, to interrupt her basketball career and to coach in her hometown. In a few years, her name began to fade into obscurity, sucked out of a quiet existence lived as a mother and educator. ‘The Queen of Basketball’ sheds light on this extraordinary sports story that has fallen into oblivion, tracing Lusia’s biography through her own words.

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The documentary distributed by the New York Times is a true testament to a giant of basketball, made even more significant by Harris’ recent death. We present it a few days after the award ceremony on the stage of the Dolby Theatre. Enjoy.

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