Kobe Bryant’s farewell tour has taken much of the spotlight in Los Angeles these days, but another familiar face among the Laker sidelines is set to call it a career.
The Purple and Gold organization paid tribute to their legendary athletic trainer Garry Vitti in between the first and second quarters during Sunday’s (Monday, Manila time) game against the Boston Celtics.
The 59-year-old Vitti is also set to retire after serving the organization for the past 32 seasons, as per the LA Lakers official website.
Fans inside the Staples Center stood on their feet and applauded, as Vitti was presented with a framed Lakers jersey that had a purple and gold medical cross instead of a number, after showing a heart-felt 30-second video tribute from the scoreboard.
The Lakers also gave Vitti two first-class tickets to Italy, where he keeps an offseason home about 90 miles outside Rome— which he has visited every offseason.
Meanwhile, Bryant, his fellow soon-to-be-retiree, had trouble putting into word’s Vitti’s impact throughout his storied career.
“That is a very long answer,” Bryant said. “I was really happy to see the ovation he received.”
“Everybody knows about all of the great players that the Lakers have had, but none of us would be able to get there and perform the way we perform without him. It’s just not possible. He’s the guy behind all of it. What he meant to my career is (something that) you can’t really put into words”, added the 20-year veteran.
Vitti will remain with the Lakers as a consultant for the next two years, overseeing the construction of the team’s new practice facility.
However, he will no longer be on the coach’s bench after being a mainstay for more than three decades. Khristian Ibarrola, INQUIRER.net