Abdul-Jabbar Convicted of Assault, Faces Possible 10-Month Sentence

Associated Press

Phoenix Municipal Court Judge John L. Wiehn Tuesday convicted Laker center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of two misdemeanor offenses stemming from a shoving incident in a shopping mall last spring.

Abdul-Jabbar could be fined up to $1,750, sentenced to 10 months in jail and put on five years’ probation in the convictions on single counts of criminal damage and assault, said Charlotte Berry, a city staff attorney assigned to Municipal Court.

However, Wiehn does not have to impose all or any of the penalties, Berry said. Sentencing was set for March 29.

Leonard Armatto, Abdul-Jabbar’s attorney, declined to comment Tuesday night. Abdul-Jabbar has a right to appeal the decision, but he is not expected to do so.


The charges stemmed from an April 21, 1988, run-in between tourist Fernando Nicolia, 40, of Rome, Italy, and Abdul-Jabbar, 41, at the Metrocenter.

According to police records, Nicolia was following Abdul-Jabbar in the mall with a video camera when Abdul-Jabbar turned on the tourist and stiff-armed the camera. Nicolia, who has filed a civil suit over the incident, claimed he suffered a bruised eye and a scratched ear from the force of the shove by the 7-foot-2, 267-pound athlete.

Abdul-Jabbar told police he brushed the camera out of the way because Nicolia was annoying him.

Berry said Abdul-Jabbar did not appear at Tuesday’s proceedings. She said the counts alleged that Abdul-Jabbar caused “bodily injury” to another person and “recklessly defaced or damage the property of another.”


Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, is in his 20th year with the Lakers and has announced his planned retirement.

The Lakers declined comment Tuesday.