Head trainer Gary Vitti had one hell of a year last season, or as he put it, “it was a tough 10 years in one.” Vitti sat down with Lakers.com reporter Mike Trudell to discuss the past season and Kobe Bryant’s rehabilitation.
“We don’t know yet [if Kobe will play in the season opener]. Kobe looks exactly the way he’s supposed to look at this point in time. Kobe makes you look good as a training staff … we always feel good about how he’s going to recover from anything, and that’s a credit to him. He gets all of it. He’s the one that has to do it. He’s going to be great no matter whom he works with”
Bryant, as we all recall, went down with a ruptured Achilles late in the 4th quarter against the Warriors on April 12th. Since then, Bryant has had surgery and been in and out of a walking boot. According to Vitti, his recovery is going just as it should be, but whether that means he’ll be ready for the season opener no one is sure.
Vitti also talked about Dwight Howard and his return from back surgery that slowed his productivity early on in the season.
“I think Dwight received a bad rap for how he returned from back surgery…Dwight did everything he was asked to do – he was compliant, diligent and worked very hard on his rehabilitation. When he plateaued, the last piece of the puzzle was to actually play basketball at the highest level, and this can’t be done in practice … the game is so much quicker and more powerful than anything you can create scrimmaging. So there came a point where we had to throw Dwight to the wolves, so to speak, and he went out there like a warrior and played himself into NBA shape.”
It was clear that, post-All Star break, Howard’s play improved, going from 16 and 11 before to 18 and 13 after. Dwight was more active on the defensive end also and looked like the franchise center the team thought they were getting.
You can read all of Vitti’s interview here, where he talks all about the injuries, the sleepless nights, and the health of the team going into next year.