Laker center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, found guilty last month of two misdemeanor charges stemming from an incident with an Italian tourist at a shopping mall last April, was fined $500 this morning in Phoenix Municipal Court and ordered to pay $840 in restitution.
Abdul-Jabbar, flanked by his attorneys and receiving a police escort into court and to a waiting limousine, waived his right to appeal and spent only six minutes in court before leaving without speaking to a dozen reporters in a packed courtroom.
Judge John L. Wiehn fined Abdul-Jabbar for shoving a camera in the face of Fernando Nicolia, a tourist from Italy who was taping the Laker center with a home video camera at the Metrocenter shopping mall in north Phoenix on April 21, 1988. Nicolia said he suffered a bruised eye and a scratched ear from the force of the shove from the 7-foot-2, 267-pound Abdul-Jabbar.
The Phoenix prosecutor told the judge that Abdul-Jabbar’s actions against the 5-foot-9 fan was “like a mismatch in basketball.”
The prosecution’s contention was that the incident involving Abdul-Jabbar was an intentional action, not a reflexive one, as the defense had claimed.
During the proceeding, Abdul-Jabbar was called before the bench and answered Wiehn’s questions mostly with one-word responses.
The maximum sentence that could have been imposed was 10 months in jail and a $5,000 fine.
A civil suit filed by Nicolia is pending although attorneys for Abdul-Jabbar are trying to settle out of court.
Leonard Armato, Abdul-Jabbar’s attorney, said he and his client were happy that the case has been concluded but were upset that it came to trial.