East grad Jeremy Ware sets Guinness record for basketball feat

Mar. 4—CHEYENNE — Jeremy Ware's classmates voted him "Most likely to break a world record" in the 2010 Cheyenne East yearbook.

Ware has always wondered how that "senior superlative" came to be attached to the right of his photo that year. He enjoyed a certain level of popularity due to his kindness and basketball ability, but he was overwhelmingly shy and reserved. When he did speak, he wasn't talking about one day etching his name into the Guinness Book of World Records.

"I couldn't have cared less about trick shots back then, let alone world records, so seeing that in the yearbook was completely random," Ware said. "I've always wondered how enough people thought that about me that that's what I got."

As fate would have it, Ware's classmates were surprisingly prescient.

Ware is now the verified Guinness record-holder for farthest basketball shot made backward. He heaved the ball through the hoop from 85 feet, 6 inches on Jan. 29 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio. The feat was witnessed by friends, a camera crew, the San Antonio Spurs' hype squad and Coyote mascot.

"There was a little more pressure because of the extra people there, but my nerves didn't really get to me," said Ware, who now lives in Phoenix. "I've been doing this for so long, and I'm used to playing in front of a lot of people in high school and college.

"The nerves I felt were more of a positive energy. I never doubted in my mind that I was flying back from San Antonio with the record. I knew I was going to get it."

The previous record of 84 feet was one of five shooting records YouTuber Josh Walker set last June. Walker broke the record of 82-2 set by Thunder Law of the Harlem Globetrotters in November 2014.

The Spurs agreed to let Ware use the arena for three hours. He needed just 40 minutes from the time he started warming up to make the record-setting shot.

"I didn't know what to expect," Ware said. "It could have been my day and I get it in the first couple minutes, or it could have taken me the whole three hours.

"I knew it was going to be a great day because I swished my second shot of the day from half-court."

Years in the making

Freshmen were tasked with doing team laundry when Ware played for NCAA Division II Colorado Christian University in Denver. Ware would use his laundry time to get extra ball-handling or shooting practice if he was caught up on homework.

He remembered Denver Nuggets mascot Rocky gaining acclaim for his ability to make a variety of half-court shots, especially backward. Ware started tinkering with shooting backward half-courters when he was done with his laundry-day workouts.

He eventually got consistent enough to show his new skill to his friends. Those friends started tagging him in social media videos of people making trick shots, noting he could probably one-up the person in the video.

"I moved from half-court to the opposite 3-point line and got consistent there, so I moved to the free-throw line," Ware said. "The courts in your local park are shorter than an NBA or college court, but I got to the point I started making it the length of the court at the park.

"That's when I thought, 'Maybe I have something here.'"

The novelty of making backward shots from long range had started to wear off of Ware late in 2021. A friend tagging him in another social media video around that time sparked Ware's curiosity. He remembered Law's record-setting backward shot because of Law's connection to the Harlem Globetrotters. Ware found out Law still held the record and became determined to break the mark.

Ware sent an application to Guinness outlining his basketball bona fides and declaring his intent to attempt the record. Getting approval from Guinness reignited his passion for attempting backward shots from distance.

Ware thought making a shot from 94 feet — the baseline-to-baseline distance of an NBA court — was a nice round number for a record. That was until he attempted those shots.

Not only did the ball have to travel 94 feet, it also had to have enough arc on it that it went through the hoop instead of banging off the heel of the rim. Try as he might, Ware's shots from 94 feet were coming up woefully short.

"I was barely getting the ball between the free-throw and 3-point lines," he said with a laugh. "One a good one, I was between the free-throw line and charge circle. Ninety-four feet was way too far away."

Ware was still sure he could set the record, but he wasn't going to be able to put it out of reach.

Location? Location? Location!

The hardest part of Ware's record attempt wasn't actually making the shot, it was finding a venue in which to attempt it.

Guinness has a lot of rules surrounding records verification, but it doesn't require basketball records to be set inside a gym or an arena. Still, Ware thought an arena environment would provide the ideal conditions for his attempt.

He reached out to the Phoenix Suns about using the Footprint Center, but was rebuffed on five different occasions. Ware talked with the University of Arizona, Arizona State and Grand Canyon University about using their arenas. They were interested, but couldn't give him the time he thought he needed while also holding practices and games for their volleyball and basketball programs.

"I basically reached out to every arena on the West Coast," said Ware, who has his sights set on another Guinness mark he isn't ready to discuss publicly.

After nearly a year of trying to get into an arena, Ware remembered a friend from his Colorado Christian days who worked for the Spurs. That friend worked Ware's request up the chain of command and secured his spot.

Ware is still very much in playing shape, even though it's been nearly 13 years since he pulled a Columbia blue and black East jersey over his head. He continues to do the off-season workouts his Colorado Christian coach gave him. Ware merely looks like a more mature version of that yearbook photo that declared him most likely to break a world record.

Even though he's in very good shape, Ware did all the training he could to increase his chances of seizing the moment.

"I did a lot of kettlebell swings and lower body workouts to make sure I had the strength to do that catapult motion when I was throwing the ball," he said. "Even though I did all that, my shoulder was on fire for about three or four days after I set the record."

Law's record stood for almost eight years. Walker's record lasted roughly six months. Ware hopes he can enjoy his accomplishment longer than Walker, but he's ready to reclaim the crown.

"I'm going to stay in shape in case someone does dethrone me," Ware said.

Jeremiah Johnke is the WyoSports editor. He can be reached at jjohnke@wyosports.net or 307-633-3137. Follow him on Twitter at @jjohnke.