Ken Sailors

Last updated
Ken Sailors
Kenny Sailors 1948.jpg
Sailors in 1948
Personal information
Born(1921-01-14)January 14, 1921
Bushnell, Nebraska
DiedJanuary 30, 2016(2016-01-30) (aged 95)
Laramie, Wyoming
Listed height5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Listed weight175 lb (79 kg)
Career information
High school Laramie
(Laramie, Wyoming)
College Wyoming (1940–1943, 1945–1946)
Playing career1946–1951
Position Point guard
Number4, 5, 27, 13
Career history
1946–1947 Cleveland Rebels
1947 Chicago Stags
1947 Philadelphia Warriors
19471949 Providence Steamrollers
1949–1950 Denver Nuggets
1950 Boston Celtics
1950–1951 Baltimore Bullets
Career highlights and awards
College Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2012

Kenneth Lloyd Sailors (January 14, 1921 – January 30, 2016) was an American professional basketball player active in the 1940s and early 1950s. [1] A 5-foot-10-inch (1.78 m) guard, he is notable for popularizing the jump shot as an alternative to the two-handed, flat-footed set shot. [2]


Sailors was born Jan. 14, 1921, in Bushnell, Nebraska [3] and grew up on a farm south of Hillsdale, Wyoming, where he developed his effective jump shot while playing against his 6-foot-4-inch (1.93 m) older brother Barton (known as Bud). [4] He eventually brought his skills to the University of Wyoming, and in 1943 he led the Cowboys to the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship. Sailors was named the NCAA Basketball Tournament Most Outstanding Player for his efforts. [5] He was the unanimous selection as College Basketball Player of the Year in 1943. [6] He would earn the honor again in 1946. Sailors was the only player in the history of Wyoming Cowboys basketball to be selected as an All-American three times, in 1942, 1943, and 1946. [6]

From 1946 to 1951, Sailors played professionally in the BAA and NBA as a member of the Cleveland Rebels, Chicago Stags, Philadelphia Warriors, Providence Steamrollers, Denver Nuggets, Boston Celtics, and Baltimore Bullets. He was second in the BAA in total assists in 1946–47, was named to the All-BAA 2nd team in 1948–49, and averaged a career high 17.3 points per game in the 1949–50 season. [7] He scored 3,480 points in his professional career. [8] Sailors was inducted into the University of Wyoming Athletics Hall of Fame on October 29, 1993. [6] In 2012, he was named to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. [9]

John Christgau, author of the book The Origins of the Jump Shot, said that Sailors’ jump shot technique was the one that modern fans would recognize as the "jump shot." "I would say that squared up toward the basket, body hanging straight, the cocked arm, the ball over the head, the knuckles at the hairline — that's today's classic jump shot.". [4]

In 2014, the University of Wyoming announced its plans to erect a specially-commissioned sculpture of Sailors outside of the University's basketball stadium, the Arena-Auditorium. [10]

Sailors died on January 30, 2016, sixteen days after his 95th birthday, of complications from a heart attack he had in December 2015. [11]

BAA/NBA career statistics

  GPGames played FG%  Field-goal percentage
 FT%  Free-throw percentage RPG  Rebounds per game
 APG  Assists per game PPG Points per game
 Bold Career high

Regular season

1946–47 Cleveland 58.309.5952.39.9
1947–48 Chicago
1947–48 Philadelphia 2.667.000.02.0
1947–48 Providence 41.300.6921.412.7
1948–49 Providence 57.341.7663.715.8
1949–50 Denver 57.349.7214.017.3
1950–51 Boston 10.160.625.3.81.8
1950–51 Baltimore 50.348.7382.32.89.5


1947 Cleveland 2.375.7502.07.5

See also

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  1. "Sailors still big shot in Wyoming history". The Denver Post . 1921-01-14. Retrieved 2016-01-31.
  2. Archived from the original on July 14, 2011. Retrieved May 15, 2009.Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. Schudel, Matt (2016-01-30). "Kenny Sailors, forgotten star credited with inventing basketball's jump shot". The Washington Post. ISSN   0190-8286 . Retrieved 2016-02-02.
  4. 1 2 McDonald, William (January 30, 2016), "Kenny Sailors, a Pioneer of the Jump Shot, Dies at 95", The New York Times
  5. Archived from the original on February 10, 2007. Retrieved March 9, 2007.Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. 1 2 3 "University of Wyoming Official Athletic Site – Traditions". 1993-10-29. Archived from the original on 2012-05-14. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  7. Sachare, Alex (1994). The Official NBA basketball encyclopedia (1994 ed.). Villard Books. pp. 40, 372, 737.
  8. "Kenny Sailors NBA Stats". Retrieved 2016-01-31.
  9. The New York Times. College Basketball. B14. March 7, 2012.
  10. "Wyoming's Arena-Auditorium Renovation Project Launches Today, With Recognition of Both Private Donors and the Support Provided by the Wyoming State Legislature – University of Wyoming Official Athletic Site". 2014-01-25. Archived from the original on 2015-12-22. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  11. "University of Wyoming legend Kenny Sailors dies at 95 | Men's Basketball". Retrieved 2016-01-31.

Further reading