GREENBURGH, N.Y. - New York Knicks guard Cuttino Mobley retired from the NBA yesterday because of heart disease that he said has gotten worse.

Mobley, a Philadelphia native who starred at Cardinal Dougherty, said doctors told him he faced significant risks if he kept playing. The 11-year veteran said by walking away now, he could live a long life.

Mobley announced his decision at a press conference at the Knicks' training center, where he confirmed he has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The condition causes the heart muscle to thicken, making it harder to pump blood, and Mobley, 33, said he had no choice but to end his career.

"The specialists I've seen 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," Mobley said. "As much as I want to keep playing in the NBA, I have no choice but to follow the advice of my doctors."

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the leading cause of sudden cardiac death in people under 30 years old and was linked to the deaths of former Boston Celtics forward Reggie Lewis and Loyola Marymount star Hank Gathers.

The Knicks acquired Mobley last month from the Los Angeles Clippers - a trade that may ultimately have saved his life. An EKG during his physical showed an irregularity with the heart, which Mobley already knew existed. The Knicks decided to perform an MRI exam, which revealed the more serious condition. Mobley then saw four specialists, who performed additional tests and provided him with literature that convinced him to stop playing.

"The doctors said to not chance it and I feel as though they're right, having an 8-year-old son, having a long life ahead of me, it's the smart thing," Mobley said. *