Mobley was acquired in a. He retired three weeks later, without playing a game, after team physicians determined he had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a potentially fatal condition.
At the time, Mobley credited the Knicks’ medical staff for possibly saving his life. He has since concluded that the concerns were unwarranted and prematurely ended his career.
Now 36, Mobley has been trying, unsuccessfully, to get back in the N.B.A. He blames the Knicks’ diagnosis for scaring potential suitors.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in New York, says that the Knicks’ actions “effectively deprived Mobley of the ability to play professional basketball.” The lawsuit contends that “several N.B.A. teams” showed interest in Mobley “but backed out” because of fears over his heart condition.
Garden lawyers have not been served with the lawsuit. In a statement, the Knicks expressed disappointment and said that the claims “have no merit.”
“When the Knicks obtained Cuttino in November 2008, the team fully expected him to be our starting shooting guard,” the statement said. “It was a significant setback to our team when we learned he would not be able to play.”
On the day he retired, Mobley said that doctors had “made it clear that my heart condition has gotten worse, and I couldn’t continue to play professional basketball without putting my health and life in serious danger.” He thanked the team’s medical staff for ordering a magnetic resonance imaging examination, which showed a thickening of his heart — a warning sign for , or HCM.
“Getting the M.R.I. basically saved my life,” Mobley said that day.
Mobley has since reconsidered that stance. In July, he told a Houston television station, KRIV, that his condition
In the lawsuit, Mobley accuses the Knicks of forcing his retirement to save money — an estimated $19 million, including salary and luxury-tax payments to the league. Mobley was fully paid, but the league’s insurance policy picked up 80 percent of his salary for the final season and a half.
The Knicks had traded their starting shooting guard, Jamal Crawford, in a separate deal with the Golden State Warriors and had pegged Mobley as his replacement.
The Knicks were aware that Mobley had a heart condition — and had received waivers from his four previous teams — but the severity is in dispute. In 2008, Mobley said he thought he merely had an enlarged heart (or athlete’s heart) until the Knicks ordered additional tests and concluded he had HCM.
But in the lawsuit, Mobley asserts that he received the diagnosis of HCM in 1999, while with the Houston Rockets, and that the Knicks knew about it. asserts that he never showed any symptoms during his career and that the condition had not worsened.
Mobley accuses the Knicks of sending him to heart specialists who were “well-known opponents” of allowing athletes with HCM to compete. The lawsuit states that Mobley could have continued with his career by having a defibrillator implanted, but that the Knicks did not give him that option.
The lawsuit accuses the Knicks of discriminating against Mobley “on the basis of perceived or actual disability” in violation of the state’s Human Rights Law and the city’s administrative code.
Andy Miller, Mobley’s agent, referred all inquiries to Mobley’s lawyer, Milton Williams, who declined to comment.