LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Longtime Lakers trainer Gary Vitti will step down after next season, according to a report Monday.
Vitti, 61, has played an integral role in keeping former and current Laker Hall of Famers like Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kobe Bryant healthy and durable for the 12 trips to the NBA Finals the team has made under his care, the Los Angeles Times reported.
After joining the team in 1984 – and going on to become the NBA’s longest-tenured trainer – Vitti will still remain on the payroll as a special consultant for two years, according to The Times.
As for the upcoming 2015-16 season, Vitti said he expects the 37-year-old Bryant to move to small forward to make room for the blossoming Jordan Clarkson and the team’s No. 2 overall pick D’Angelo Russell, who Vitti believes is “going to be a star.”
And the big question every Laker fan is wondering: can Bryant make through a full season without succumbing to injuries?
“That’s going to be the big question with Kobe, and we’re just going to have to feel it out,” said Vitti. “It’s been a while since he’s played. We just need to see.”