Though you may have never heard of him, Skoog is one of the most significant players in the development of basketball and no, it’s not because he won championships with the Lakers in each of his first three NBA seasons or that he is one of two Lakers nicknamed “Whitey”
(Whitey Kachan played for the team in 1948-49).
Skoog is generally credited with being the first player to ever attempt a jumpshot, something he did in a Minnesota high school game in 1944. Recalling the moment to GopherHole.com, a website that follows University of Minnesota athletics, Skoog said he had jumped to make a pass but “a big man was in my way and I was hanging there and just shot it. The ball hit the bottom of the rim and I fell flat on my backside.”
It would be four years before Skoog, whose first name was actually Myer, would try the shot again, this time as a collegian in a game between Minnesota and Drake. Once again, the shot was unintended albeit with better results.
“I was dribbling and I wanted to avoid a collision and I jumped in the air and just threw it up there and it went in,” he said. “It felt comfortable and better than the set shot as I got more leverage. I went back and practiced it over and over and it caught on.”