It’s hard to imagine basketball without the elegant, one handed jump shot. Yet, in the 1930s, basketball coaches insisted players were supposed to keep both their feet on the ground.
Kenny Sailors was a Wyoming farm boy who grew up playing basketball against his 6 foot 5 inch older brother. At only 5 feet 10, Kenny struggled to make baskets. Out of necessity he developed a new shot – it involved jumping and simultaneously shooting. Kenny said his jump shot was all about the wrists and fingers.
Sailors was a gifted athlete, but he didn’t receive a basketball scholarship to the University of Wyoming. Instead he was a walk-on to the basketball team. The team went on to win the 1943 NCAA national basketball championship. Kenny’s jump shot became famous.
Listen to Kenny Sailors recount his success on the basketball court in the oral histories recorded at UW’s American Heritage Center.