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When Did the Jump Shot in Basketball First Occur?

Updated on April 12, 2011

It happened by mistake, without planning and thought, it was a response in a basketball game in 1931. John Cooper was back then, a strapping jock at the top of his game playing for a Missouri college. During the frantic pace of the game, John's feet accidentally left the hardcourt in a jump that had him taking a shot. John felt odd, yet good about this. He instinctively also knew it was a new innovation in the game of basketball. The first time he had tried this at the University of Missouri, his coached benched him for such an antic and told him not to do it again. The jump shot was a novelty and really did not catch on. In 1943, Kenny Sailors was playing in NY and aroused the crowd when he did the "jump shot" at a NCAA tournament. In 1936, during a Stanford game, it was a "jump shot" that won the game. By 1932, Cooper managed to convince his coach of the value in the jump shot during practices.

As John commented before his death at age 98, he jumped and shot because of the taller players against him on defense. As odd as it now seems, basketball, invented in 1981 in America, was rather a drab sort of game for the next 40 years. Doing a jump shot was simply not done in college or pro games. The game then was one of quick passing and movement and shooting from a standing position. There were no "fast breaks", "jump shots". Just manuvering and weaving between players. Former players state the game was boring. Unlike games today, games then rarely had more than 40 points  scored by a single team.

The innovation of the "jump shot" only appeared sporadically in games until 1950 or so, after which, many players had adopted it as a standard technique. As for Cooper, he went on in life as a professor in kinesiology.


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