In January of 1946, in a game between Wyoming and Long Island University played at Madison Square Garden, Wyoming’s Kenny Sailors rose into the air, high above his defender, whose feet were firmly planted on the ground, and shot the ball. The defenders watched in awe as Sailors elevated. In 1942, basketball was heavily reliant on the two-handed set shot, until Sailors, in his 5’10” wiry frame, changed basketball forever.
It was this story that Mary Beth Minnis, Ryan Munson and Drew Munson, three Edmond Memorial graduates, wanted to tell.
“Nobody knew Kenny Sailors name because he didn’t seek out fame or fortune. He sought out to live a life of service,” Said Minnis.
After playing basketball at Wyoming, Sailors entered the Marines, serving in the South Pacific. After his service, he went back to Wyoming with one year left of eligibility. Sailors then went on to play in the NBA, where he played for 8 years before he retired in 1951.
The film “Jump Shot: The Kenny Sailors Story”, which Minnis worked on as a producer and executive producer, tells the unique story of Sailors, who despite having a big hand in the way modern basketball is played, lived an incredible life off the court.
Ryan Munson, who was an executive producer, and Drew Munson, a co-executive producer, worked alongside Minnis on the project.
“This is a man who served his country with distinction, served his family, and served his community.” Minnis said. “And also had an incredible impact on the sport of basketball.”
Minnis grew up in Edmond, and was taught to play basketball by her father and coach Max Pope.
“Max really invested in this team of girls,” she said. “He taught us how to play basketball but more than anything he taught us how to be a team. He gave us confidence.”
Hearing Sailors’ story, which included a stint as a high school girls basketball coach, struck a nerve with Minnis.
“Seeing Kenny Sailors take the time and effort to coach women really impacted me and really made me want to tell this story. Especially in a time when people didn’t think it was worth their time to invest in women.” She said.
The film features Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Dirk Nowitzki, three basketball legends who owe their careers to Sailors’ innovation. Curry, alongside Minnis and the Munsons, helped executive produce the film.
“Jump Shot: The Kenny Sailors Story” has already been featured in Oklahoma City’s film festival deadCenter on Thursday, and will be featured again on Saturday, June 8th at 1:45 p.m. at Harkins Bricktown.
You can follow along with the film on Twitter and Instagram at @jumpshotmovie, and Facebook at JUMP SHOT: The Kenny Sailors Story.