You can bid on a Magic Johnson trading card from the NBA’s short-shorts era on eBay, order the 2000 R&B album, “My Thoughts,” by Johnson’s first Magic 32 Records artist Avant on Amazon, or download video of the Hall of Famer’s short-lived, late night Fox TV talk fest, “The Magic Show,” on YouTube.
But if you want your very own Magic prepaid MasterCard, you’d best step lively because, come June 30, that sucker is going to be slam-dunked forever. And no, not by Larry Bird.
Here are the sordid details.
A South Florida entrepreneur named Reed Wallace claims No. 32 agreed to allow Wallace’s company, Celebrity Cards International, to market and sell a prepaid debit card under his name, to be called the Magic Cash Card. We don’t know too much about Wallace and his Magic Card LLC because the company’s About Us page isn’t. Instead, it informs us that said Magic Cash Card is accepted at two spots worldwide: New Age Cycles, a Miami-area electric bicycle shop previously run by Wallace, and KIN Los Angeles, a Sunset Strip apparel store.
Enter OneWest Bank, a Southern California-based bank with 74 branches and $24 billion in assets that rose from the ashes of IndyMac, thanks to a $1.55 billion cash transfusion by fund manager George Soros, former Goldman Sachs partner Steven Mnuchin and others. Mnuchin went on to found Dune Entertainment, which provided the green behind “Avatar,” “Alvin and the Chipmunks” and the X-Men film franchise.
Coincidentally, OneWest also entered into an agreement with Johnson to market what became The Magic by Magic Johnson prepaid MasterCard.
So last June, Wallace sued Johnson and OneWest for alleged trademark infringement, unfair competition and sundry other offenses, claiming Magic “stuck a knife in my back” and offered him a measly $75,000 to switch teams.
Wallace claims he sold 2,000 of his Magic Cash Cards back in 2004 before his partnership with Johnson hit the skids, and that since then, OneWest has put 30,000 of its prepaid Magic MasterCards on the street, which he says are worth $3.6 million in annual profit.
Johnson, in a countersuit, maintains it was Wallace who walked away from their deal.
Ready for the Florida twist? Last fall, U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro in Miami denied defense motions to have the case dismissed. Wallace turned up the heat by demanding that Soros and computer buzillionaire Michael Dell, both principals in OneWest, testify as to “what they know and when they knew it” in this Magic act.
Slam! On Friday, that Magic by Magic MasterCard was tossed from the corporate deck. “We’re discontinuing our program as of June 30, 2014, and all prepaid cards will be closed at that time. May 31, 2014, will be the last day you can load additional funds, including direct deposits to your card,” OneWest’s OnlyMagicCard website announced.
Wallace’s attorney would only say that the case had been “settled to the mutual satisfaction of all parties.”
But judging by the silence on the part of OneWest and Johnson, one could assume that some parties were more mutually satisfied than others.