Former Lakers athletic trainer Gary Vitti shared a revealing anecdote about Kobe Bryant’s toughness ahead of the unveiling of his statue on February 8.
Recalling the moment when Bryant tore his Achilles in 2013, Vitti recounted, “He walked all the way back to the locker room. I asked him if he wanted a chair. He looked down at me and said, ‘F*** Paul Pierce!'”
Vitti clarified that Bryant’s remark was a nod to Pierce’s dramatic return during the 2008 Finals after being wheeled off the court with an injury, ultimately helping the Celtics secure the championship over the Lakers.
Then he walked all the way back to the locker room. I asked him if he wanted a chair. He looked down at me and said, ‘F— Paul Pierce!’ You remember in 2008 when Paul Pierce went off on a wheelchair, came back and then kicked our ass. That’s pretty impressive stuff. He lost his mind in the trainer’s room and was throwing Gatorade bottles. But before he left that room, he already started his path back. He wanted surgery the following morning. Then he started his process to come back. He did it under eight months, which was pretty fast-tracked even for him.” Via SportsKeeda
Adding to the narrative of Bryant’s legendary resilience, his former teammate Metta Sandiford-Artest, previously known as Ron Artest and Metta World Peace, shared insights into Bryant’s ability to endure pain.
Speaking with Mark Medina for Sportskeeda, Metta commented, “He was always in the training room. I know sometimes he was hurt, but it was hard to tell. You could see him in pain and the trainer would tell us how much he was in pain sometimes. We didn’t always know. He was just a tough guy.”
Metta highlighted instances like Bryant playing through a broken finger in 2010, showcasing his remarkable determination. Even during his later years, when fatigue set in, Bryant continued to push himself to the limit.
Reflecting on Bryant’s Achilles tear in 2013, Metta expressed astonishment at Bryant’s stoicism, recalling how Bryant simply walked off the court despite suffering a severe injury. This display of fortitude left a lasting impression on Metta, further underscoring Bryant’s remarkable ability to persevere through adversity.