MANHATTAN (CN) – Former shooting guard Cuttino Mobley claims in court that the New York Knicks knew his career could have been save with a defibrillator implant, but used his heart condition to gain the upper hand in bargaining with other NBA teams.
“Mobley has played basketball while wearing a heart monitor which was provided to him by a cardiologist,” Mobley claims in his amended federal complaint. “This test was not performed in 2008. He wore the monitor over a substantial period of time while engaging in all of his regular activity, including playing basketball for several hours. The readings from the monitor showed no significant rhythm disturbance during any time period. The resting echocardiogram and treadmill testing that was done from in or about 1998 to 2008 and indeed since then never revealed any such abnormalities. These results also confirm the low risk of serious injury or death from HCM [hypertrophic cardiomyopathy], and that he would be an ideal candidate to have a defibrillator implanted which would eliminate virtually any risk.”
Other than the new information about the defibrillator, the rest of Mobley’s 14-page amended complaint is nearly identical to the one he filed in November 2011.
The complaint briefly outlines the basketball star’s career.
Mobley was a hot NBA shooting guard from 1999 to 2008, and led the Los Angeles Clippers to within one game of the Western Conference Finals in 2006.
“In the fall of 2008, however, the New York Knicks negotiated to take over his contract – and ended his career. The Knicks were aware, prior to the trade, that Mobley had been diagnosed with a heart condition. This condition did not affect Mobley’s ability to play basketball. Mobley had never had any symptoms, and had been medically cleared to play every year of his career,” according to the complaint.
“Spotting what they evidently thought was a weakness, though, the Knicks decided to take advantage. First, they tried to raise the heart condition to gain the upper hand in bargaining with the Clippers. When that attempt did not succeed, they proceeded with the trade, but sent Mobley to a doctor they knew would disqualify him from playing. The Knicks’ maneuver gained them a double savings: First, insurance paid most of Mobley’s salary. Second, his salary no longer counted toward their total payroll for the purposes of the ‘luxury tax,’ a surcharge they paid if the total payroll went above a set amount, or ‘salary cap.’ The Knicks saved millions, and cleared room under the salary cap in their quest to retain the services of other marquis players, but Mobley’s career was effectively ended.”
Mobley claims the Knicks owed the highest amount in luxury tax payments in the NBA in 2007: $45 million. He says the Knicks saved about $19 million through the insurance payments and the amounts saved under the luxury tax.
He sued Madison Square Garden, MSG Holdings, and Madison Square Garden Inc. for disability discrimination. The defendants own and operate the Knicks.
Mobley seeks punitive damages and wants defendant Madison Square Garden to pay 25 percent of it to the nonprofit Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association.
Mobley is represented by Milton Williams Jr., with Vladeck, Waldman, Elias & Engelhard.