REVIEW: The Queen of Basketball [2021]

Rating: 8 out of 10.
  • Rating: NR | Runtime: 22 minutes
    Release Date: 2021 (USA)
    Studio: The New York Times
    Director(s): Ben Proudfoot

Long and tall and that’s not all.

What better way to hear about Lusia Harris than from the woman herself? Ben Proudfoot‘s documentary short The Queen of Basketball sees the charismatic former three-time national champion and Olympic silver medal-winning player going through her scrapbook of memories following a rise from daughter of Mississippi sharecroppers to the first woman drafted by the NBA. Did she pursue what was most likely a publicity stunt? No. She also doesn’t regret the decision when looking back and seeing who her children have become through choosing family instead. You can’t help wondering what might have been, though, if opportunities like the WNBA existed back then. With nowhere to go in the sport but coaching after college, those multi-million-dollar endorsement contracts never came her way. Gender equality only went so far.

That’s the gradual nature of paradigm shifts. Just because Title IX was signed to give teenage girls the opportunity to play high school and college ball didn’t mean society or sponsorships were ready to provide them a viable professional platform to continue their journeys. It didn’t matter that her school of Delta State was selling out women’s games while the men’s weren’t. It didn’t matter that she and the team were written up in newspapers all over the country or that the influx of money pouring into the university was allowing them to fly to games. There was still that barrier preventing them from that next step and it took a toll on Harris. To watch her smile drop when talk about her late-presenting bipolarism post-career is heartbreaking.

Her sacrifices and roadblocks helped pave the way for today’s women stars, though. She was a pioneer that gave young girls a role model who looked like them. Where Lusia would stay up late under a blanket to watch Oscar Robinson play on TV, they had “Queen Lucy” to think about instead and all the accomplishments she achieved. Late-70s college basketball is about Bird, Magic, and Lucy now. And with a fast-paced full-court press of its own, Proudfoot’s film expertly splices archival footage with her animated anecdotes and infectious laugh to ensure no one will ever forget that truth. It’s an inspirational and candid conversation with a basketball legend that both reminds us how far we’ve come as well as how much further we must go.

courtesy of ShortsTV

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