JUMP SHOT: The Kenny Sailors Story is a movie about a life well-lived. Kenny changed the game of basketball, but his personal legacy also shines. He devoted his life to his God, his family, his community, and his country.
Kenny Sailors (1921 – 2016) grew up on a farm in Wyoming. He invented the jump shot as a way of getting the extra six inches he needed over his taller, older brother. He took his unique shot with him to play with the University of Wyoming and also as a professional.
In 2012, Kenny was named to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.
Many of Kenny Sailors’ friends worked hard to get Kenny recognized as the inventor of basketball’s jump shot. However, the Naismith Hall of Fame has not inducted him.
But Kenny’s life was more than basketball. He said to a correspondent: “You don’t worry about these man-made halls of fame. I belong to the greatest hall of fame that any man or woman can ever belong to. But it’s not down here; it’s up there.”
Kenny’s professional basketball career was interrupted by WWII. He served as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Marine Corps in the Pacific.
During his early married life, he and his wife, Marilynne, were ranching in Wyoming. Then due to her health, they moved to Alaska. They had a successful guiding and outfitting business approximately 1965 – 1999. He coached in the schools, convincing Alaska public schools to begin a girls’ basketball program. He lead a girls’ team to the state championship.
The filmmakers catch up with Kenny back in Laramie, Wyoming.
JUMP SHOT: The Kenny Sailors Story
The documentary, JUMP SHOT, encourages people to consider Kenny Sailor’s life and legacy.
In the movie, basketball fans will enjoy interviews with Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Dirk Nowitzki, Bobby Knight, and others.
I don’t follow the sport, so I enjoyed most the interviews and clips of Kenny and of people who knew him.
Tom Brokaw coined the term, “The Greatest Generation.” I couldn’t help but think of the qualities of that generation as Kenny’s life unfolds in the film. Integrity. Humility. Work ethic. Faithful commitment.
In his movie review on Forbes, Patrick Murray writes: “There’s a moment in the film where Kenny was asked, you know, who’s in his Final Four. And subsequently, after a long pause, he responded with God, father, husband, and US Marine. I think that’s a very definitive moment in the film that really defined what the film was about.”
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- For Kenny’s basketball career and awards, see this Wikipedia article.
- For a thorough look at Kenny’s life, check out Kenny Sailors Jump Shot.
- The “man-made halls of fame” quote from Kenny Sailors comes from Kenny Sailors Leap of Faith by Wyoming PBS (timestamp here).
- The image of Kenny in the University of Wyoming arena is a screenshot from the trailer.