*NOTE: This review is going to be a CAPSULE review, which means it’ll be a tight, quick critique of the film.
When you think of the sport of basketball, you think of the jump shot. Like dribbling or passing, the jump shot seems to be just a basic fundamental of the game of basketball and something you are taught when you are first introduced to the game.
But did you know that there was a time when the jump shot didn’t exist? That basketball was a ground game and the only way to score was through lay-ups close to the basket or set shots.
That’s where Kenny Sailors had an idea. While playing one-on-one with his brother in Wyoming, Kenny was having trouble scoring on his much larger older brother. In order to do so, he jumped in the air and shot the ball like his set shot. The ball went in and it was this moment that arguably changed the game of basketball forever.
Jump Shot takes a look at the life of Sailors. With great archival footage and interviews with Sailors and people who knew him, Sailors was a man who developed the modern jump shot that is still being used in basketball today. Sailors was an All-American basketball player out of the University of Wyoming who used his new jump shot to change the game and dominate. Though if you ask Sailors, it was his stealthy defense and quick dribbling that made him a great player. Sailors eventually made it to the NBA, where his career would be cut short due to going to World War II and trying to start a life with his wife.
Jump Shot shows us the life of a man who had more on his mind than basketball. He loved the game of basketball and he loved being part of it in every sense, but he knew there were more important things in the world. Sailors was a man of God, a proud husband and father, and a member of the U.S. Marines. These are the four things Sailors cared about most in the world and he took that to his grave.
Seeing interviews with current NBA legends Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Dirk Nowitzki, three of the best shooters in the modern NBA and possibly ever, and seeing them gush over Sailors shot form and how good he was as a player shows how great of an impact he had on the game. Jump Shot is a beautiful, fascinating tribute to Sailors, someone who changed the game of basketball forever.
Jump Shot is playing at the 55th Chicago International Film Festival in the Documentary category.