There are few people tougher that Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant and the below story told by Los Angeles Lakers trainer Gary Vitti might give you even more reason to believe so.
Recently, LA Daily News Mark Medina spoke with Vitti and the moment that Kobe tore his achilles against the Golden State Warriors last season.
Vitti stated in the interview that he and Kobe Bryant had a “gentleman’s agreement” that Bryant (despite the severity of the injury) would take the free throws before being taken out of the game:
“The warrior that he is, Kobe says maybe I can run on my heel,” Vitti recalls, laughing, in a recent interview. “I was like, ‘Come on. You have to go.’”
Vitti granted Bryant’s wish, however, to shoot his two free throws. In what he called a “gentleman’s agreement,” Vitti then alerted the officials and Golden State’s coaching staff the Lakers would then foul immediately so Bryant could leave the game.
All went according to script. Bryant swished both free throws on essentially one foot, walked off the court on his own and then added an extra layer to his many list of amazing plays. It also helped the Lakers tie the game with 3:09 remaining and eventually lead to a 118-116 over Golden State, an outcome they needed to salvage a playoff berth.
“I think it’s his gutsiest moment,” said Vitti.
In the same interview, Vitti talked about how badly Kobe looked after the game but also noted that few could have comeback from that injury to take those free throws:
“In the middle of the night, he had crawled up like a shrimp,” Vitti said. “He looked like he was on death’s door.”
Vitti then reverted back to Bryant’s heroics following his Achilles injury.“To be walking off the floor with his own power,” Vitti said, shaking his head. “I’ve seen guys being taken off on wheel chairs for a shoulder injury.”
Kobe Bryant image is courtesy of Getty Images