Student takes magic act to the pros
Nicole Rogers, The Oklahoma Daily
At age 7, J.P. Wilson, business sophomore, performed his first magic show at a children’s birthday party. Thirteen years later, he presents his seven-minute, magic-filled act to sold out NBA crowds across the country.
“He is the hottest halftime act around the league,” said Dan Mahoney, vice president of corporate communications for the Oklahoma City Thunder. “He has a great work ethic. He is a student as well and it’s incredible that he balances it all. It must be magic.”
In addition to the Thunder, Wilson has performed his halftime act for the Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors and Chicago Bulls. He said he became interested in magic after his parents returned from a trip to Las Vegas with a magic set.
“They brought me back a magic set with about 10 different tricks in it,” Wilson said. “They taught me one and once I mastered that one, a week later I got another trick and that went on. I’d master a trick and they’d get me a new one.”
After magic lessons in multiple states, Wilson began to form a relationship with the New Orleans Hornets in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina forced the team to temporarily move to Oklahoma City.
Wilson first did game photography for the Hornets, but his magical talent soon took center court.
“We did a bunch of game entertainment with them and then we started with the magic act,” Wilson said. “We were trying to figure out a way we could do a halftime act for a big arena. The second year the Hornets were here we were able to perform it.”
The act took about a year to develop, he said.
“It’s hard enough to do magic in front of one audience, but to find magic that you can do completely surrounded with people looking down at you from all angles as well can be difficult,” Wilson said.
Wilson said the halftime act has changed a lot over the past three years. He is currently teaching his new assistant, University College sophomore Maree Treece, the tricks of his trade.
Following some skepticism, Treece accepted Wilson’s offer to be his assistant after viewing the YouTube videos of past halftime performances.
“I didn’t know what to think about it at first, but he was not making it up,” she said. “I just started working. We’ve had two practices. It takes a lot of timing and we have to be flexible with time and traveling.”
Wilson and Treece will perform their first halftime show together Feb. 17 in Dallas when the Mavericks host the Phoenix Suns.
“There are so many things that go on in the real world, everyday life problems, that once you step into a magic show it’s kind of like you have the opportunity to take everybody’s minds to a different place,” Wilson said. “So then it’s something to relax, take their minds off of the real problems off the world and put them more on a fun, magical place.”