For Kobe Bryant’s legions of fans, the fact he hobbled to the free throw line and drained two free shots after his Achilles tendon ruptured is just another testament to his toughness. And it was pretty impressive.
Now the details of how that came about are out.
Longtime Lakers trainer Gary Vitti explained it to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News, starting with the fact Kobe didn’t want to come out at all.
“The warrior that he is, Kobe says maybe I can run on my heel,” Vitti recalls, laughing, in a recent interview with this newspaper. “I was like, ‘Come on. You have to go.’”
Vitti granted Bryant’s wish, however, to shoot his two free throws. In what he called a “gentleman’s agreement,” Vitti then alerted the officials and Golden State’s coaching staff the Lakers would then foul immediately so Bryant could leave the game…. All went according to script….
“I think it’s his gutsiest moment,” said Vitti.
The free throws tied the game against Golden State, a game the Lakers went on to win — a win they needed to get a playoff spot in the West.
It was gutsy and part of the Kobe legend now. We’ll see what he can add to it upon his return.