It started out as a simple case of a former player who didn’t think a trading card company had the rights to use an action photo of him from his college days. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar vs Upper Deck was the latest in a line of lawsuits inside the industry. In recent days, however, the case has turned into a bit of a circus and according to court papers, it’s because Upper Deck President Richard McWilliam allegedly tried to give a deposition while drunk.
After two unsuccessful tries, attorneys for the basketball Hall of Famer finally got McWilliam to give a taped deposition last week that they would present in a Los Angeles area courtroom when the case went to trial later this month. McWilliam, according to transcripts, staggered into the proceedings looking flushed and proceeded to “slur his speech, offer incoherent statements and became belligerent”. After a few minutes, the deposition was halted by McWilliam’s attorney for ‘health reasons’.
During the process, Abdul-Jabbar’s attorney asked McWilliam if he was under the influence on two separate occasions but McWilliam said he wasn’t. The deposition papers suggest something was amiss, however.
When asked if he was the president of Upper Deck, McWilliam refused to answer saying the question was “unappropriate”. You can read the rest of his comments in the 53 pages of court documents here.
Abdul-Jabbar’s attorney asked for the court to enter judgment after the aborted deposition, but McWilliam will get another chance.
Attorney and card collector Paul Lesko analyzes what went on in the courtroom and how it might affect the rest of the case.