Gary Vitti Rumors
L.A. let Marco Nunez go in April 2019 after three years at the helm after a season in which Lakers players lost 212 games because of injury. Before Nunez, Gary Vitti served in the role for more than 30 years. More changes are expected as the team is in the process of restructuring its approach to player health, sources told ESPN.
You can’t discard Abdul-Jabbar, who former Lakers head athletic trainer Gary Vitti argues remains “the most accomplished.” Abdul-Jabbar became the NBA’s all-time leading scorer (38,387 points), led the Lakers in scoring for a team-best 11 consecutive seasons (1975-86) and won three of his six regular-season MVPs in a purple and gold uniform. “That’s a really tough conversation to have because there are so many great players that have played for the Lakers,” Abdul-Jabbar told USA TODAY Sports. “That starts with the original Minneapolis Lakers with George Mikan. He has won five world championships. The franchise has had a lot of success. It’s kind of hard to pick one.”
It has been 472 days since Kobe Bryant died, but long-time Lakers trainer Gary Vitti still gets choked up whenever he speaks about him. Vitti constantly hears helicopters whirring over his Manhattan Beach home, a sound that used to stir a childlike excitement in his heart and inspire him to look up at the sky with wonder. Now that noise fills him with dread. “Every single day I’m reminded of him,” Vitti said of Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash January 26, 2020. “I can’t seem to get past that.”
It really clicked for Vitti when they were on the team plane in 2005 and Bryant walked over to his seat carrying a DVD of the horror movie “Saw II.” Bryant told Vitti about a scene in the film in which a contraption was placed around a man’s neck that would kill him in 60 seconds unless he were able to unlock a padlock and take it off. The key to the padlock had been surgically implanted in the man’s head so, in order to save his own life, he had to dig out his eyeball with a scalpel within a minute.
“He goes, ‘Listen, I’m telling you, I know I could do it,'” Vitti recalled. “I think it says something about him. It’s a crazy story. But if you actually knew him, it says something because who else would think of that? Actually put themselves in the story? Nobody. It’s fantasy, it’s horror, it’s never really going to happen. But in his mind, he was prepared to do what he had to do.”
Bryant later told Vitti that him refusing a wheelchair was a purposeful jab at Paul Pierce, who was carried off the court and wheelchaired to the locker room during Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and Lakers after suffering an apparent knee injury and returning minutes later. Upon reaching the locker room, Bryant fell apart.
“Once he got back into the training room, he literally lost his mind,” Vitti said. “He was throwing Gatorade bottles around. If you were in there, you kind of had your head up because you might get hit with something. He was very upset. We went through the whole thing with the docs, the evaluation. “And then there was a knock at the backdoor. It was [his wife] Vanessa and the girls. He immediately, immediately shut off his emotions. He didn’t want them to see him like that.”