Magic Johnson’s Focus

Magic, illusion, surprise, deception, a seemingly impossible feat; that’s Magic Johnson

The key for rookies is that everything must fit. It is necessary not only to have each level of your skill levels perfect, but each skill level must contribute to the complete and entire game.

At 6’ 9” and playing the point guard position, Magic must have had to do a real selling job in respect to his dribbling and passing techniques in order  to eliminate his coaches’ turn-over fears. To this end, the big point guard position of dribbling and passing was created. There became a new dribbling technique which protected the basketball from the opposition at the maximum. Magic calls it “dribbling behind your back,” that is, when the opposition is in front of you. You protect the basketball with your lead arm and lead leg, then comes your body, then comes your back leg and your dribbling hand, with the ball actually behind your body. This is the ultimate in protection against turnovers. Furthermore, this style of dribbling makes the defensive players unable to steal the ball away by body or hand steals. To keep this dribbling system mobile, the back-down system was instigated.

The Rhythm of this system was generally a “two-beat” Rhythm system for shooting. First you step into position protecting your shot from the opposition. Then you start the shooting process:  a natural 1-2 Rhythm to your game. The Rhythm for Magic Johnson’s passing game was a deception to his dribbling Rhythm; and he used a “one-beat” instant pass off the dribble, similar to that used by Steve Nash or Derek Rose during their game. Another interesting development is that on Magic’s penetrations to the rim, his lead arm and leg still maintain their protection position, thus his unique shooting on his off-leg began to take form. This Rhythm style is consistent with his protection dribbling technique; again, everything in harmony.

The Squeeze part of Magic Johnson’s skill level was not explosive as in the “one-beat” Rhythm style, but rather a floating source of energy from one step to the next in his “two-beat” position style of shooting. There was never any real need for speed in his shot because speed was not the most important factor – it was hand and body protection in dribbling and shooting, so that a nice smooth release on his shot began to be one of his trademarks.

Magic’s Focus, both Peripheral Vision and Target Vision, were unsurpassed by anyone, with the possible exception of Larry Bird and Michael Jordan. Magic knew where everyone was at on the court at given moment, and knew the individual players’ strategies, as well as his own team’s strategy and the opposing team’s strategy. Like magic, he could move the players around on the court, passing or shooting or dribbling in an unsuspecting manner, keeping the opposition off balance and out of Rhythm, and giving his own team many opportunities to win. The Target Vision used by Magic Johnson was never hurried; instead it was one of being calm but determined to score. Again, he relied more on protecting the shot than the speed of the body or the shot. Protection began at the Technique level and was unique, but stayed consistent all the way through the Focus level.

Magic played in the Will or “Void” level. He could impose his Will on other players with his actions. His anyplace dribbling and shooting protection style, plus his “one-beat” deception passing style, made Magic seemingly unsurpassable in regards to playing in the “Void,” where there was no opposition to what Magic wanted to do to win. For Magic it was a show, not competition. It was a performance without opposition, thus began the phrase “Magic Johnson and the Showtime Lakers.”

Call it what you want, but perfecting the Focus and the Will levels is the greatest achievement, obtained by only a few of the legends. That’s Magic.

To lose the essence of your being. In the blink of an eye, in the prime of his life, Magic Johnson, Showtime Laker’s Point Guard, was taken away from his livelihood, his passion and his game. It happened in an instant – it was not an injury, not lack of skill, not an opposing player that defeated Magic Johnson – it was the HIV virus. The virus that has taken so many lives may have kept Magic Johnson off the court, but could not destroy him. Now HIV has a new enemy. Magic Johnson wants to defeat this virus not only for himself, but for any others that carry this virus. We at support Magic Johnson’s foundation.

Donate to Magic’s charitable organization, The Magic Johnson Foundation



The article was obtained by TV special, promotions or commentary while the information has been given freely to the general public. has organized and embellished on this tip, specifically that which pertains to the rooky level professional players.

The context of this article relates to the article at entitled Skill Development Pyramid. It should be looked at as an application example.

Each article obtained through TV specials, promotions or commentary from the athlete is subject to revisions, elaborations or eliminations so as to be as accurate as possible.

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