Kenny Sailors, inventor of jump shot, passes away


Tierra Mahute

Modern players baling for B-A really don’t know the debt they owe to Kenny Sailors.

Nathan Davis, Staff Writer

Most people know that the creator of basketball was Dr. James Naismith, who fashioned the first hoop out of a peach basket.

Kenny Sailors, on the other hand, is a slightly less known name.

Kenny Sailors/YouTube

Sailors, who is credited with inventing the jump-shot, passed away last week at the age of 95.

How did Sailors come to discover this momentous action that is now part of the identity of the game?

In a quote from Sailors in a BleacherReport article, he says, “I knew if I jumped higher than Bud (my one-on-one partner) I could get the shot up and over him; I did so one-handed.”

The mechanics of the jump-shot have certainly changed since Kenny Sailors first patented it; just take a look at shooters like Ray Allen and Steph Curry.

“I’d heard of him but I didn’t really know what he did,” junior basketball player Ethan McGee said. “But he changed the game and paved the way for players down the road.”

He changed the game and paved the way for players down the road.

— Ethan McGee

And while he is in the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame, Sailors was never inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, much to the dismay of his fans.

Jarrett Taneyhill, Bellwood’s big man, also has some skill from behind the arc; and he realizes how much Sailors meant to the game.

“Without this man, the 3-point line would’ve never been invented,” Jarrett said with a smile. “And without the 3-point line I wouldn’t be the player I am today.”

Fellow Blue Devil teammates Joe Padula and Noah D’Angelo used words such as “transformed, evolution, and innovation” to describe what Sailors did.

Jr. High basketball coach Brent Hughes also believes sailors helped the game become more enjoyable all around.

“After he invented the jump-shot,” he commented, “it really spread out the court; it made it so that there wasn’t a giant mosh pit under the hoop!”

Kenny Sailors allowed the game to move forward; and even though his first jump-shot wasn’t the prettiest, it paved the way for all great shooters in years that followed.