[WATCH] Iowan Was the First Woman Ever Drafted by the NBA
Meet Denise Long, the first woman ever drafted into the NBA. She's from a tiny town in north central Iowa and played her high school career at Union-Whitten in the late 1960s.
During her junior year, Long led Union-Whitten to the title game in March of 1968. In that game, Long scored 64 and her cousin, Cyndy netted 40. The final score, in overtime, was Union-Whitten: 113 Everly: 107. Many consider it the best six-on-six girls basketball game in history, no matter the state.
Denise Long's senior year saw her average 69.6 points per game and scored more than 100 three times during the season. She scored 6,250 points during her high school career and captured the attention of the nation, as evidenced by this Sports Illustrated article.
When her senior season ended the owner of the San Francisco Warriors, Franklin Mieuli, saw an opportunity. He drafted Long in the 13th round of the NBA draft. The league commissioner vetoed Long's pick because it was against league rules to draft women or high school players. Long wasn't fazed. She was off to California.
Denise Long became a member of one of four women's teams who actually played before Warriors home games and during halftime. As she says in the video below, “We got to play a whole game before the Warriors played and then we played an exhibition quarter at halftime.” The experiment lasted only one season and Denise never received a salary. It would be 1996 before the WNBA would be formed.
See some of the highlights from Denise's career below and you'll notice something right away. Her passion for basketball has never waned.