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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's 65th Birthday Gift - A Legal Settlement with Upper Deck

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 65th Birthday Gift – A Legal Settlement with Upper Deck

For his 65th birthday, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar might have thought all he was going to receive was the gift of jury selection in his trial versus Upper Deck.

He got more--the case settled during lunch.

Courtrooms aren't the ideal place for a party. And the process of jury selection isn't high on anyone's birthday to-do list.

The process of jury selection is called voir dire, and involves each sides' attorneys asking the juror pool questions to help them identify the best jurors for their case, while striking those that would hurt the case.

Legal translation: "Striking" here is not hitting, although sometimes it feels like the only way you can reach some members of a jury is to slap some sense into them.

Abdul-Jabbar should be happy in that his attorney was very personable and down-to-earth, appearing to connect well with the jurors. According to my firm's invaluable law clerk, he even threw in a few jokes.

That by itself would have been a decent birthday gift.

Legal translation: It's not a sweater, but it should have given him a nice, warm feeling that things were starting off well. At a minimum, the jurors didn’t hate his attorney.

Then, lunch rolled around.

And when the parties came back, they apprised the judge that a settlement had been reached.

Happy Birthday Kareem!

We don’t know the terms of settlement, or even who technically won. We might never know. But it looks like the Abdul-Jabbar v. Upper Deck saga may be over. Six days earlier than expected.

The judge has given the parties until the 24th to finalize the agreement and dismiss the case, so there is an ever-so-slight chance we may learn how the case settled, but don't hold your breath.

This settlement came as a surprise to me. Given how a settlement conference fell apart just a few weeks ago, and how each side brought sanctions motions against each other, I thought it was too contentious to settle.

But trials nowadays are rare. More than 90% of cases settle. And if one as heated as this one can settle, then really any trial can settle.

I guess we'll need to keep our eyes on the Upper Deck v. Upper Deck case too. Although as heated as that one is, that one may be more difficult to wrap up.

As for Abdul-Jabbar, I figure he'll blow out his birthday candles soon. And hopefully his attorneys are gathered around him in their offices singing "Happy Birthday." Although, now that I think about it, I doubt they would be singing "Happy Birthday" as that would require a license since the song is copyrighted. And I’m sure burning candles in an office building probably violates fire code, so they wouldn't do that either. Man, attorneys are buzzkills.

So, here's hoping for Abdul-Jabbar's birthday that he is far away from all attorneys. And given the settlement, he likely will be.

The information provided in Paul Lesko's "Law of Cards" column is not intended to be legal advice, but merely conveys general information related to legal issues commonly encountered in the sports industry. This information is not intended to create any legal relationship between Paul Lesko, the Simmons Browder Gianaris Angelides & Barnerd LLC or any attorney and the user. Neither the transmission nor receipt of these website materials will create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the readers.

The views expressed in the "Law of Cards" column are solely those of the author and are not affiliated with the Simmons Law Firm. You should not act or rely on any information in the "Law of Cards" column without seeking the advice of an attorney. The determination of whether you need legal services and your choice of a lawyer are very important matters that should not be based on websites or advertisements.

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Paul Lesko has litigated complex and intellectual property actions for over 18 years. Don’t hold the fact that Paul is a lawyer against him, he’s also a rabid baseball and college basketball fan, and an avid card collector. He's also the author of the novel Gastric Bypass, available for purchase at Amazon. Paul can be found on Twitter @Paul_Lesko and Google+.

User Comments

Buster Brown
Buster Brown

As you well know obtaining a judgement or settlement is only half of the battle. I would not enter into any type of settlement with UD with out rock solid certified funds upfront.

What a clown McWilliam has become. He was on top of the world only 3-4 short years ago and then greed, prescription drugs, and tequila took over his life. It is only a matter of time before he loses NHL, NHLPA, CLC, Marvel etc.

There will be a lot of collectors, former employees, former associates, former customers, current customers, and league representatives dancing on the UD grave celebrating by burning unredeemed redemptions, popping pain killers, and doing Patron shots in honor of King Richard.


If it was any other athlete, I would be rooting for the player. With Kareem, he should have been thanking Upper Deck for finally giving him an actual reason to turn down signing cards for kids.

I watched him turn down autos for members of the stats crew during his “retirement tour” about a decade before ebay even existed.

It would have been nice to see how this would have played out in court and I hope UD pays Kareem AFTER they take care of their other matters, not before.


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