Jump Shot: The Kenny Sailors Story

Movie review by
Lynnette Nicholas, Common Sense Media
Jump Shot: The Kenny Sailors Story Movie Poster Image
Inspirational sports docu about basketball legend.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 79 minutes

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Positive Messages

Messages of integrity, perseverance, focus, determination, loyalty, humility, commitment. A talented athlete chooses to define himself through his faith and his commitment to his wife, rather than limelight of basketball court. Elders are shown respect; contributions of those who came before are acknowledged. Peers and colleagues show teamwork in effort to accomplish a goal for someone they respect, admire.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Professional NBA players including Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Dirk Nowitzki, as well as other well-known sports figures and coaches, pay homage to trailblazers of the past. Sailors demonstrates humility in ability to not have an ego about his association with what's known as "modern-day jump shot." A man shows discipline, tenacity in his ability to focus on what mattered most to him. "I wanted to be a good ball player, and girls just didn't fit into that for me."

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Jump Shot: The Kenny Sailors Story is a biographical sports documentary about basketball star Kenny Sailors and his contributions both to the sport and to society. The movie has many positive themes, including humility, perseverance, integrity, commitment, community leadership, and making family a priority. No negative stereotypes are present, and there's no violence, strong language, drinking/substance use, or sex. While the movie centers on the mark that Sailors made in basketball, his character off the court is equally notable: He comes across as a man of genuine integrity who wasn't defined by the sport he played, but rather by his dedication to his marriage, his family, his community, and his faith.

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What's the story?

JUMP SHOT: THE KENNY SAILORS STORY is a sports documentary about basketball legend Kenny Sailors, who has been credited with pioneering the modern-day jump shot. Executive-produced by Stephen Curry, the film highlights Sailors and his contributions to society, as well as his impact on others. It also highlights the efforts of fans and supporters to get Sailors more wide recognition for his contribution to the sport -- even though he'd be the first to say that he never wanted to be wholly defined by basketball. Interviewees include Curry, Kevin Durant, Dirk Nowitzki, Jay Bilas, Clark Kellogg, Bobby Knight, Lou Carneseca, Kiki VanDeWeghe, Nancy Lieberman, Chip Engelland, Tim Legler, Fennis Dembo, and David Goldberg, among many other notable figures.

Is it any good?

This documentary does a great job painting a portrait of a man who wasn't defined by his career in basketball. Sailors' priorities have clearly always been his integrity, his commitment to his wife, his contributions to the communities that he lived in, and his loyalty to his alma mater. While many sports documentaries seem bent on glorifying athletes, Jump Shot: The Kenny Sailors Story is more inspirational and educational. It doesn't appear to have any ulterior motives other than to highlight a humble man who happened to change the way that the game of basketball was played. Seeing famous NBA players pay respect to past generations sets a great example for the current generation; hopefully, it will help them remember not to take those who came before them for granted. Sailors comes across as a visionary, a born leader who brought positive change to every endeavor that he undertook, whether it was teaching or creating an all-girls basketball team (where he defied convention by giving Native American girls a chance to play).

Directed by Jacob Hamilton, Jump Shot is a no-fluff, no-frills chronicle of moments in basketball history, showcasing what it is to be a role model. Pairing interviews with modern-day sports figures and athletes with vintage footage and images of Sailors and his counterparts really showcases the rich legacy of basketball culture. The film's straightforward style is a good match for Sailors' personality. While it's evident that Sailors was a man of faith, the messages presented here are so genuine that anyone can relate to them, no matter their beliefs. When asked by a notable sports figure about "his final four," Sailors responds with great conviction: "God, husband, father, marine." There's a message here about not being distracted by success -- or what we may think success is. In the end, Sailors lived a long, happy life and died of old age. Whether he made it to the Hall of Fame during his lifetime didn't matter to him. As he says, "I know that I belong to the greatest Hall of Fame that any man or woman could ever belong to, and when you belong to that, and you know you belong to it -- you don't worry about these Hall of Fames that men create down here. It don't mean that much to you."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Sailors. Do you consider him a role model? In what ways does he show humilityperseverance, and integrity? Why are those important character strengths?

  • How does Sailors compare to other basketball players you're familiar with? Do they seem to value the same things?

  • Do you think documentaries like Jump Shot have to be objective, or can documentary filmmakers let their opinions show? 

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love basketball

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