The Origins of the Jump Shot: Eight Men Who Shook the World of Basketball

Overview


Before the jump shot, basketball was an earth-bound game. In fact, inventor James Naismith did not originally intend for players to move with the ball. The inspired invention of the dribble first put the ball handler in motion. The jump shot then took the action upward. But where, when, and how did the jump shot originate?
 
Everybody interested in basketball knows the answer to that question. Unfortunately, everybody knows a different ...
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Overview


Before the jump shot, basketball was an earth-bound game. In fact, inventor James Naismith did not originally intend for players to move with the ball. The inspired invention of the dribble first put the ball handler in motion. The jump shot then took the action upward. But where, when, and how did the jump shot originate?
 
Everybody interested in basketball knows the answer to that question. Unfortunately, everybody knows a different answer. John Christgau delves into basketball’s evolution, following the supposed inventors of the jump shot to the games in which they first took to the air. He discovers that a number of pioneer players, independently but from the same inspired possibility, can each claim credit for inventing the jump shot.
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Editorial Reviews

Rick Telander

"The wheel, the printing press, the light bulb, the airplane, the space ship, the jump shot—the progress of man can be measured by leaps into the void. This fascinating look at the athletes who changed basketball by jumping into the air and creating, when such a thing was taboo, is about sport and competition, but most of all it is about what Christgau describes as ‘the spirit of originality.’ I couldn’t put it down."—Rick Telander
Rick Telander
"The wheel, the printing press, the light bulb, the airplane, the space ship, the jump shot-the progress of man can be measured by leaps into the void. This fascinating look at the athletes who changed basketball by jumping into the air and creating, when such a thing was taboo, is about sport and competition, but most of all it is about what Christgau describes as 'the spirit of originality.' I couldn't put it down."
Rick Telander

"The wheel, the printing press, the light bulb, the airplane, the space ship, the jump shot—the progress of man can be measured by leaps into the void. This fascinating look at the athletes who changed basketball by jumping into the air and creating, when such a thing was taboo, is about sport and competition, but most of all it is about what Christgau describes as ‘the spirit of originality.’ I couldn’t put it down."—Rick Telander

Library Journal
Ever wondered about the person who invented the basketball jump shot? Christgau, author of Enemies: World War II Alien Internment (LJ 11/15/85) and a former San Francisco State University basketball player, was curious. After combing through the documented history of the game, he came to the conclusion that it was a group effort--that eight pioneering basketball players from the 1930s and 1940s could legitimately claim to have had a hand in inventing the jump shot. Christgau paints eight colorful portraits of the men, their era, and the circumstances that led to the creative leap. The pioneers were a ski-jumping Norwegian American, one of the first black players signed to the NBA, a Californian so small that his classmates nicknamed him "Mouse," the son of an early silent film star, an alcoholic murder victim, the son of Depression-era sharecroppers, and two farm kids. Recommended for most sports history collections.--Terry Jo Madden, Boise State Univ. Lib., ID
Kirkus Reviews
An impassioned look back at the early days of roundball and the players who took the game from earthbound to airborne via the jump shot. Christgau is a fiction writer (Spoon, 1978) as well as a former All-Conference basketball star (at San Francisco State Univ.), a combination that gives us an author with hoop dreams of crafting "a story on the origins of creativity itself." To do that, he takes readers back to an era when basketball was more like chess played in shorts by a bunch of white dudes. The author's research and enthusiasm are admirable, but his play-by-play is too detailed for all but dyed-in-the-wool fanatics. Christgau does a good job of capturing the ambience of the drafty Minnesota gym at that magic moment in 1944 when Norwegian ski-jumper Myer Skoog "took one long step that launched him into the air" during a high-school game. The best of the eight profiles (including three men who later played in the NBA) depicts Gary, Indiana's Dave Minor. This champion track star (he set an Indiana record in the high jump that held for 16 years) led his high school team to the state's final four in 1941, firing off his innovative jumper despite his own coach screaming, "I don't want you shootin' that shot." Minor scored as much as 25 points in some games and was even invited for a game and career with the Globetrotters. "The Wheelhorse of Steel City," instead, went on to college and only in 1951, when the was 31 and the color bar in basketball was finally broken, did he play for Baltimore and Milwaukee in the pros. While a good read, this book would be better as a first chapter in a broader tribute to all the innovators who took the sport to a higher level. A fun road trip tobasketball's past, but as far as making the jump shot a grand metaphor for creativity, the ball goes around the rim and out. (16 b&w photos, not seen)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803263949
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/1999
  • Pages: 250
  • Sales rank: 1,045,651
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.53 (d)

Meet the Author


John Christgau is the author of several books including Spoon, winner of the Society of Midland Authors Best Fiction Award. He played basketball for three years at San Francisco State University and was named to the All-Conference team twice.
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Table of Contents

List of Photographs
Introduction
Fire, Myer! 1
The Mouse of Grattan Playground 30
The Leader of the Class 54
The Wheelhorse of Steel City 79
Joe and His Magic Shot 106
Jumpin' Johnny Adams 135
Belus and the Sunshine Basketball Boys 156
Kenny and Bud 187
Acknowledgments and Sources 215
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