HoopsHype Gary Vitti rumors

April 13, 2013 Updates
January 31, 2013 Updates
January 17, 2013 Updates
November 4, 2012 Updates

Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike Brown thinks it's possible Steve Nash will only be out a week because of the fracture to his left leg but that the team isn't putting pressure on him to rush back. "You obviously hope he's back as soon as possible," Brown said Sunday after the team's shootaround. "But the one thing you don't want to do, you don't want to compromise his long-term health for him coming back quicker than he should. So, (trainer) Gary Vitti and the staff are on top of it. We'll just wait and play it out from there." ESPN.com

October 29, 2012 Updates
June 8, 2012 Updates

MT: Andrew suggested that he will go see Dr. Peter Wehling in Germany that performed a procedure (called Orthokine or Regenokine) on Kobe's knee last offseason? Gary Vitti: I've already spoken to the doctor in Germany regarding Andrew going through the same procedure as Kobe did. NBA.com

November 7, 2011 Updates

That morning, Dunleavy -- who'd finally gotten Rosen to tell him a few days before, adding him to a strict circle that also included West and longtime athletic trainer Gary Vitti -- was beginning practice. "He's trying to keep it under wraps, and we're at practice at Loyola Marymount," Dunleavy said. "They call me and say, 'Stop practice. Send everybody to The Forum, right now. Don't let them take showers.' But then, some guys were going over in their cars and they were starting to hear things on the radio... "We go into our locker room (at the Great Western Forum), and Earvin comes in and he tells the players. I cannot tell you how emotional that was. Every one of us, we're all thinking, Earvin's going to be dead in two years. He's going to wither away. Here's this guy we love, and you're just thinking the worst. Tears were just flowing. And then he goes upstairs and gives this press conference, and he's like, 'Ah, I'm going to beat this thing.' " NBA.com

July 19, 2011 Updates

MT: You had figured out that Magic had acquired HIV? Gary Vitti: Well, I knew that he’d taken an extensive physical exam for his life insurance policy, because I had to fill out some of the paperwork. I knew they did a lot of tests, and one of them was an HIV screening. So I figured, that’s got to be it. He either has cancer or he has HIV It took me a while, a whole day of thinking about it, but I couldn’t let it go. MT: You’re racking your brain trying to come up with something, anything else? Some other explanation? Vitti: Yes, I was trying not to really believe it, and I was holding out hope that it was something else. And so we leave Utah and go to Vancouver, and I get a call at the crack of dawn from the team doctor, Dr. Mellman. I say, ‘Mickey, I figured it out, you don’t have to tell me … Magic’s HIV positive.’ (Editor’s note: Vitti pauses, fighting tears, for about 10 seconds.) Mickey said, ‘Yeah, I knew you’d figure it out. Nobody knows, but Magic wanted you to know.’ I’ve told this story many times, but it still gets me. NBA.com

MT: How many people knew about Magic’s condition at this point? Vitti: At the time, only seven people knew: Dr. Mellman, Magic, Magic’s wife Cookie, (agent) Lon Rosen, Jerry West, Dr. Jerry Buss and me. It was really new territory, and we didn’t know what to do. There were legal ramifications, and many things that needed to be discussed, including another test to make sure it wasn’t a false positive, even though that was unlikely. We had to stall to get another test done, and it went about two weeks with only those seven people knowing. NBA.com

MT: I’m going to stop you there if I can. What was Magic’s demeanor like when you met him that day? How was he doing? Vitti: I can tell you exactly what he said to me. I asked if he was OK, because, I said, ‘I’m a wreck.’ He said to me: ‘God gave me this disease, and he gave it to the right guy. I’m going to beat this, and do something really good with it.’ And he has. That was his attitude. It gave me strength, which is what I was supposed to give him, but I didn’t. He did. NBA.com

MT: Wow. OK, let’s get back to how you were dealing with the issue before it became public: Vitti: We went those two weeks, and eventually Magic decided to retire and we had to make an announcement. The team was flying out on a Thursday, and Lon called me on Tuesday to share that Magic wanted me to get a room at the airport, get all the players and coaches in the room when they show up for the flight, and he was going to address the team and tell them the news. We’re all going to get on a plane and fly to wherever we’re flying to, and Magic was going to go back to the Forum for a press conference to tell the world. We were supposed be on a plane so the players weren’t going to be approached by the press right after the found out. That was the plan. NBA.com

Vitty: But when we were at practice on Wednesday, I got a call from Jerry West. He said, ‘Get everybody out of practice right now. There’s been a leak, and the press is all on its way to Loyola. Get the players out of there, tell them not to talk to anybody or say a word. I don’t care what they have to do, tell them to cancel their plans and get to the Forum.’ So that’s what I did. I ran into the gym, called Mike Dunleavy over, and told him what was going on. The players still didn’t know, and some said that they had plans. I said, ‘Cancel your plans. Today is going to change your life.’ And it did. It changed all of our lives. So everybody gets in cars and leaves, and you can see as we’re driving out, a parade of media members are driving in. We’re passing them. NBA.com

MT: What happened once everyone arrived at the Forum? Vitti: Everybody ended up at the Forum, we went down to the locker room, and Magic told the team. It was tearful. But Magic knew how to say the right thing to each person. After addressing the group, he went to each guy, gave a hug and whispered something into each of their ears. I was the last one, and standing next to me was (Director of Scouting/Consultant) Bill Bertka, who is stoic, tough, ice – I had never once seen Bill emotional. Magic put his arms around him, whispered something into his ear, and Bill’s knees just buckled. He broke down. Magic held him and picked him up, and me seeing that made me lose it. So I was next, and I said, ‘It’s OK man, you and I have already had our talk.’ Magic put his arms around me, and whispered in my ear, ‘Yeah … but it doesn’t make it any easier.’ He gave me a hug, and we all went upstairs to the Forum Club, and Magic told the world. It was an emotional locker room, but once Magic went up there, he pulled it together. NBA.com

MT: When we today see Magic so full of life, so vibrant, do we perhaps forget – at least to a degree – what the letters “HIV” meant in 1991? Vitti: We thought it was a death sentence, just a matter of time. He was going to die. MT: Do you think Magic ever believed that? Vitti: No. He told me that he was going to beat it. But when he said it to you at the time, you’re like, ‘Good attitude, man.’ You didn’t really think he was going to beat it. NBA.com

May 27, 2011 Updates

MT: Kobe Bryant said in his exit interview that he wasn’t able to reach his physical peak this past season since he came into the season off knee surgery, couldn’t strength train how he would have like to, and had to build up strength despite not really practicing. How did that affect his season? Gary Vitti: Just logically it’s going to affect anyone that doesn’t participate in training camp. It all starts there. Coming into camp, we’re still doing rehab, so Kobe was behind all the time and could never really catch up, which has something to do with the surgery, something to do with the sheer miles of wear and tear and the attrition the game has on him. So when we do look at an entire season, we look at how what what we’re doing in October and how that will affect the player in February, March, April and so on. There’s no exact science to it, but it’s about having a feel for an NBA season and that player … and I’ve had Kobe since he was 17. NBA.com

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