Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was sued last month by forward Alex English of the Denver Nuggets, has responded by adding English as a defendant in the $55-million lawsuit the Laker center has pending against Thomas M. Collins, the business manager who at one time represented both players.
Papers identifying English as an additional defendant in the suit, which alleges a history of financial mismanagement that left Abdul-Jabbar with a string of bad investments and unable to meet his debts, were filed in Los Angeles Superior Court earlier this week.
According to English's Denver-based attorney, Elizabeth Brown, papers were served on English on the bench during the Nuggets' game with the Lakers at the Forum Tuesday night.
"English was brought in as a . . . defendant because he has raised issues which are directly related to, and are the immediate result of, the manner in which Thomas Collins handled Kareem's financial affairs," said Jonathan Bader, an attorney with the firm representing Abdul-Jabbar in the suit.
"Any determination of issues arising between Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Alex English must be done in the context of the overall situation involving Tom Collins and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar."
Abdul-Jabbar's suit against Collins alleges, among other things, that Collins borrowed money from other clients to advance money to Abdul-Jabbar without telling him, and that there was no documentation of such transactions. In the same way, the suit alleges, money was taken from Abdul-Jabbar's accounts and advanced to other clients.
On Feb. 18 in Denver, after a Laker game against the Nuggets, Abdul-Jabbar was served with papers in the Laker dressing room, informing him that English had filed civil suit seeking to collect $150,000, money that English claimed he and Dallas Mavericks guard Brad Davis had lent to the Laker captain in 1985. Abdul-Jabbar had "failed and/or refused to repay" the money, according to the suit.
That action was taken only as a last resort, Brown said Friday. She added that Terry Cummings of the Milwaukee Bucks, another of Collins' former clients, had, through his attorneys, expressed interest in joining the action against Abdul-Jabbar.
"We consider it a simple collection suit and don't understand why it's considered newsworthy," said Brown, who said Abdul-Jabbar's attorneys have not responded to her phone calls.
"We're just asking for repayment," she said.
Asked why English had not taken legal action to recover money from Collins, Brown said that she had questions about the feasibility of recovering assets from English's one-time business manager. Collins, who once also represented Ralph Sampson of the Houston Rockets and former players Rickey Sobers and Charlie Scott, no longer represents any NBA players. He has moved from Los Angeles and now lives in Colorado.
Collins' attorney, Donald Rivers, had no comment on the inclusion of English in the suit.
Abdul-Jabbar said he has not spoken to English since being sued by the Denver player. Last Tuesday night, when the Nuggets played the Lakers here, the Laker captain refused to shake hands with English, the Nugget captain, as is the custom before the game. Abdul-Jabbar sent Magic Johnson in his place.