JEFF CAPLAN

Jeff Caplan’s Minute of News: Queen of Basketball

Mar 28, 2022, 4:30 PM
Lucy Harris...
Lusia Harris, seen here on June 10, 2021 in New York City, was a three-time All-American at Delta State University, has died, according to a statement from her family as well as Delta State University. Photo: Cindy Ord/Getty Images

Editor’s note: This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom.

SALT LAKE CITY — Lusia “Lucy” Harris was an amazing woman. And if things worked out a little differently she could have been the first woman to play for the Utah Jazz.

Ever heard of her? Lucy Harris?

A film excerpt features Lucy describing herself, saying she was a great female basketball player who was once the greatest in the U.S. and that the Jazz drafted her.

It’s true. But that was years ago.

The excerpt comes from the film “The Queen of Basketball” which is about Lucy and her remarkable life.

Born in Minter City, Mississippi she grew up and then grew some more til she stood 6-feet-3-inches. She earned a spot playing basketball for Delta State, leading her team to championships.

Lucy was selected for the first U.S. Women’s Olympic Basketball team. In Montreal, 1976, she became the first woman ever to score a basket at the Olympics.

“Ann Meyers passed me the ball, I shot it, and made it,” Harris said in an excerpt for the film. “And Ann Meyers said ‘that’s history’.”

And it was.

Next came her flirtation with the Jazz.

Right after college in 1977, she became the only woman ever selected in the NBA draft; selected by the Jazz in the seventh round.

They invited her to try out for the team. But Lucy said no.

“I just thought it was a publicity stunt,” Harris said in an excerpt from the film.

She later revealed she was pregnant at the time.

Lucy moved on from basketball and raised her children, who learned of her exploits much much later.

She raised her children and it’s crystal clear she’s more proud of them than her hoops career

Four of her children finished graduate school. There’s a doctor, there’s a lawyer, and those kids issued a statement after Lucy died unexpectedly at the age of 66.

They called her an angel, matriarch, Olympic Medalist. And a queen. The Queen of Basketball.

The movie about her life won the Oscar for Best Short Subject Documentary on Sunday. 

Other Minutes of News:

Listen to Jeff Caplan’s Afternoon News every weekday from 3 to 7 p.m. for more of his “My Minute of News.” And check out the podcast below.

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Jeff Caplan’s Minute of News: Queen of Basketball