Lakers' trainer Gary Vitti is about connect Kobe Bryant in retirement

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Source:   —  April 03, 2016, at 8:20 PM

Gary Vitti knows the rookies have been sent by the veterans to purchase them, a battle he can't win, so he puts up an adjacent sign that says "cardiac risk," an nearly daily reminder that doughnuts probably aren't the healthiest things.

Lakers' trainer Gary Vitti is about connect Kobe Bryant in retirement

LOS ANGELES_The table in the LA Lakers' locker room is filled with two dozen glazed offerings from an iconic nearby doughnut shop.

Gary Vitti knows the rookies have been sent by the veterans to purchase them, a battle he can't win, so he puts up an adjacent sign that says "cardiac risk," an nearly daily reminder that doughnuts probably aren't the healthiest things.

It is one thousand nine hundred eighty-four, Vitti'south first year as the Lakers' athletic trainer. Times are a tiny different back then.

Thirty-two years later, he'south prepared to retire. He'll be honored during Sunday'south game against Boston, an apropos opponent if ever there was one.

Vitti, sixty-one, came to fame as the mustachioed man close the front of the bench in the Lakers' "Showtime" era. He still wears his one thousand nine hundred eighty-seven championship ring (it came against the Celtics) and talks reverently of the one thousand nine hundred eighty-five title (also against the Celtics).

He was portion of eight NBA championships and twelve NBA Finals, quite a running for any employee of any team.

A pious learner of ancient history, he says simply, "It'south the right time" to retire, cognizant of the franchise'south coarse three-year run.

"If you see at the Lakers as the Roman Empire, that'south what we were," he said in an interview. "After the fall of the Roman Empire were the Shadowy Ages. That'south where we've been."

After that came the Renaissance, Vitti continued, followed by the Age of Enlightenment.

"That'south where we're going," he said. "I got us through the Shadowy Ages but presently somebody'south got to get over. There will be a rebirth. This franchise will come back."

When Vitti joined the Lakers, there were twelve players, two coaches and one trainer. Presently there are fifteen players, nine coaches and six training-staff members.

Nutrition has advanced beyond the two cases of soda and a case of beer available after every game.

"And I used to keep them there," Vitti said with his typical humorous touch.

The Lakers are presently apartment to consume digestion-aiding probiotic drinks with a slightly different type of fermentation compared to the old days.

Grass-fed beef, free-range chicken and humanely raised pork are encouraged. Potato chips are available only if prepared in avocado oil.

When Vitti started, the Lakers played at the Forum and practiced at a no of spots, generally Loyola Marymount. There was a set time the team could utilize the gym, and there was number going past it if LMU'south volleyball or basketball teams were scheduled to practice after the Lakers.

"It was just that simple. We'd to be out," Vitti said.

There were times the team couldn't obtain the gym, which meant practicing at the Inglewood YMCA, Inglewood High or L. A. Southwest College before the Lakers' current El Segundo training facility opened in two thousand.

"We literally were vagabonds," said Vitti, a one-man training staff at the time. "When I took the job, (common manager) Jerry W asked me if I'd a truck or a van. I said no. He said, 'Well, you're going to need one.'"

Vitti bought a discounted vehicle from the team automotive sponsor and lugged around large bags of training equipment and a bulky TV in a custom-built trunk so the team could look game video.

Vitti'south staff gradually grew to comprise an equipment manager, strength and conditioning coach, helper trainer, massage therapist and physical therapist.

Over the years, fewer players have been closer to him then Kobe Bryant.

As Bryant came of age in the 2000 playoffs, he sustained an ankle injury and missed Game three of the NBA Finals against Indiana. The Lakers' lead was slice to 2-1.

Bryant, who also will retire after the season, recently reflected on the day before Game 4.

"I could barely walk and (Vitti) is molding my ankle and all of a sudden you just heard this loud pop," he said. "We just looked at each other and said 'OK, this is either really excellent or really bad.'

"I started walking around and I said, 'Damn, you fixed it!' I was able to finish the series," with the Lakers winning in six games.

Vitti won't miss road games that get him far from his wife, Martha, and adult daughters Rachel and Emilia. He'll be a Lakers consultant the following two years but spend much more time at his Manhattan Beach home.

He's number regrets, though he'll miss the residence games, particularly the "mini-relationships" he's made.

He mentions locker-room attendants, Staples Middle security guards, popcorn hawkers, media members and the parking valet among others.

"They become portion of the fabric of the arena," he said. "There'south all these multitudes of relationships that you don't even know you've until you start realizing, 'Hey, I'm not going to look these people anymore.' I'm going to miss that."

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