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.
Harris thought she had accomplished everything she needed to, everything a woman in the 1970s could accomplish in basketball. She wouldn’t really have a chance against the men. “I didn’t think I was good enough,” she said. “Competing against a woman, yes. It’s a different story competing against a man. So, I decided not to go. “I said no to the NBA.”
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.”
Groundbreaking basketball star Lusia Harris, the only woman to be drafted by an NBA team, has died at the age of 66. Harris’ family announced Tuesday that she died unexpectedly earlier in the day in her home state of Mississippi.
Harris was selected by the New Orleans Jazz in the seventh round (137th overall) of the 1977 NBA draft. However, she declined to try out for the team. Only later was it revealed that she was pregnant at the time.
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May 26, 2022 | 9:03 pm EDT Update
Adrian Wojnarowski: ESPN’s NBA Draft Analyst Mike Schmitz is finalizing a deal to become an assistant GM with the Portland Trail Blazers, sources tell ESPN. Schmitz will play a significant role with new GM Joe Cronin in leading the Blazers’ domestic and international scouting departments.
In the aftermath of the elementary school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, the Miami Heat used a pre-game moment to urge fans to contact U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, both Florida Republicans, “demanding their support for common sense gun laws” — and telling them they can “make change at the ballot box.” Rubio, who is up for re-election this fall, didn’t like it. He took to Twitter on Thursday, lambasting the NBA for “politicizing a horrific tragedy in America.”
“The Heat urges you to contact your state senators by calling 202-224-3121 to leave a message demanding their support for common sense gun laws. You can also make change at the ballot box. Visit heat.com/vote to register and let your voice be heard this fall,” the statement said. Many fans could be heard cheering as the announcement was made.
May 26, 2022 | 8:27 pm EDT Update
Melissa Rohlin: Steve Kerr on the reaction he’s received to his comments on the mass shootings. “I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me, most asking what they can do… What I’m asking people to do is get involved in their local communities…call your senators.”
Callie Caplan: Steve Kerr has encouraged others to call their reps since his viral comment on Uvalde: “I have lots of friends who are Democrats and lots of friends who are Republicans. All I know is they all want gun violence to go away, so we just need to get our public servants to respond.”
Melissa Rohlin: Kidd was asked about his comment that the Warriors play zone because they can’t guard them one-on-one. He said it’s a compliment to his guys, not a shot at the Warriors. But he added that as a player, he knows if a coach makes adjustments, it’s because his team can’t do something