NBA Rumor: Lusia Harris Death

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Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robertson. The men of the NBA, they were the only superstars of basketball when Harris grew up. “I wanted to grow up and shoot that ball just like they would shoot it,” Harris said in “The Queen of Basketball,” a documentary released in 2021. “And I did.” Harris did shoot that ball. She grew up to be one of the best women basketball players of all time. She became a 3-time college national champion at Delta State University. She became the first woman to score a basket in Olympic women’s basketball history.

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Only one other woman in basketball history has her name associated with the NBA. Denise Long was drafted as a high school senior by the San Francisco (now Golden State) Warriors in 1969. Walter Kennedy, the NBA commissioner, blocked the pick. That makes Harris the only woman officially drafted in the NBA. Harris also became the first Black woman enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame, in 1992, in Springfield, Mass. Her presenter was Oscar Robertson, the basketball idol whom she used to sneak and watch on those late nights. Harris was enshrined in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999.

Eight years before, the San Francisco Warriors had selected Denise Long in the 1969 NBA Draft, but the league voided it. Therefore, when the Minter City, Miss., native was picked on June 10, 1977, she went into the history books as the first and only woman ever drafted by an NBA team. On Tuesday, Delta State announced that she died at 66. “We are deeply saddened to share the news that our angel, matriarch, sister, mother, grandmother, Olympic medalist, The Queen of Basketball, Lusia Harris has passed away unexpectedly today in Mississippi,” Harris-Stewart’s family said in a statement. “The recent months brought Ms. Harris great joy, including the news of the upcoming wedding of her youngest son and the outpouring of recognition received by a recent documentary that brought worldwide attention to her story.”
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