Jumpshot: Kenny Sailors, Basketball Innovator and Alaskan Outfitter

A new book about Kenny Sailors written by, Lew Freedman, is out now. Please look for it at your nearest bookstore. For an excerpt of the book click here:

 

A Tribute to a Man, His Life, and His Legend

Psalm 115:1 KJV, Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us,
but to Your name give glory,
because of Your mercy, because of Your truth.

 

Kenny Sailors shoots his jump shot in Madison Square Garden, January 3, 1946
(Photo from LIFE Magazine, January 21, 1946, p. 85)

Photo Caption: “Guard Kenny Sailors of Wyoming Jumps and Shoots To Make Score 21-16. He Scored Seven Field Goals and One Free Throw,
a Total of 15 Points”

 

An excerpt from the LIFE story on this game: . . . . “Fortnight ago the Wyoming Cowboys made a long trek east and defeated Long Island University before a crowd of 18,056 . . . . using the expert ball control of Milo Komenich . . . and the fast, smooth dribble and the accurate jump shots of Kenny Sailors (above), the Cowboys went on to win 57-42”

 

In “The Origins of the Jump Shot,” (University of Nebraska Press, 1999, pp. 205-206) author John Christgau wrote, “Discharged from the Marines in late 1945, Kenny . . . within days . . . found himself in Madison Square Garden again. One shot by Kenny Sailors . . . remains historic . . . . He had stolen a pass and then raced down the left side of the floor . . . . At the top of the key, he cut to his right and then stopped suddenly and jumped. Courtside spectators in folding chairs watched as he seemed to rise up into the scoreboard . . . . Now, at the peak of his jump and hanging-in-the-air in Madison Square Garden, he drew a bead on the basket . . . . Just before he dropped his left hand away to release the shot, a photographer’s flashbulb exploded silently. To the 18,056 fans who were watching, the flashbulb explosion seemed to freeze Kenny Sailors in the air, while beneath him men as floor-bound as statuary looked up in awe. Two weeks later Life Magazine ran a photo story of the game . . . . millions of young players saw that picture of Kenny’s jump shot in Life, and that . . . began a chain reaction in basketball . . . . Everywhere young players on basketball courts began jumping to shoot.”

 
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