ADN- There was just one witness to the moment Kenny Sailors helped revolutionize the game of basketball — his brother, Bud — but by all accounts no one has ever doubted their story.
The moment came on a hot May day in 1934. The two were tussling, one on one, under an iron rim nailed to the side of the family’s windmill, a wood-shingled, big-bladed landmark that their neighbors on the Wyoming high plains recognized for miles around the way sailors of the usual kind know a lighthouse from miles out at sea.
Kenny, a 13-year-old spring-legged featherweight, was dribbling this way and that on the hardpan, trying to drive to the basket, when Bud began taunting him, as older brothers will.
“Let’s see if you can get a shot up over me,” Bud said. A high school basketball standout, he had five years on his brother and, at that time, almost a foot in height.
Kenny took the challenge, doing what people at a disadvantage often do: He improvised. He squared up, planted his feet and leaped.
“I had to think of something,” he said in an interview a lifetime later.
What he thought of was the jump shot, an innovation that would eventually be seen as comparable to the forward pass in football.