While two of the short documentary The Queen of Basketball‘s executive producers, Shaquille O’Neal and Steph Curry did not take the stage, they are still now official Oscar Winners after the 22-minute documentary won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject.

This honor comes only two months after the doc’s subject, Luisa Harris, died in Mississippi just about a month before she would have turned 57. Harris was a trailblazing basketball star who was the first woman to be drafted by the NBA, and the woman to score the first basket in Olympic women’s basketball history.

Harris was selected by the New Orleans Jazz in the seventh round of the 1977 NBA draft and declined to try out for the team because she was pregnant at the time. She would coach for many years after the fact and occasionally return to playing, and eventually moved back to her native Mississippi to become a high school teacher in the late 80s.

O’Neal, who has been helping advertise the new doc directed by Ben Proudfoot, admitted that he “didn’t know who [Harris] was at first,” before joining the crew. This is an all-too-common occurrence for pioneering women of color that have pushed their respective industries forward without receiving any credit. It’s great that Shaq, Curry and Proudfoot worked to bring this story to a huge stage.


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“If there is anyone out there who doubts that there is an audience for female athletes and questions whether their stories are valuable or entertaining or important, let this Academy Award be the answer,” Proudfoot said in his acceptance speech. He also made a statement directed toward President Joe Biden saying, “Bring Brittney Griner Home.”

Proudfoot was referring to the recent arrest of WNBA star Brittney Griner in a Moscow airport, who was detained after police say they found vape cartridges with THC oil in her luggage. Griner could face 10 years in a Russian prison for the alleged crime.

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