Vitti on Bryant's Injury

April 13, 2013 1:06 pm PDT


Lakers Injury Report sponsored by UCLA Health System

To explain and expand upon the happenings around Kobe Bryant's season-ending tear of his left Achilles tendon, Lakers head athletic trainer Gary Vitti addressed reporters on Saturday at the team's practice facility.

"Third-degree rupture," said Vitti of Saturday morning's MRI results. "It’s gone. It has to be sewn back together."

Vitti said that the plan is to have Bryant ready to play for the start of next season, providing a rough timetable of six to nine months.

"He’ll be immobilized for quite awhile – a month or more," Vitti explained. "Then like anything else, he’ll start working on strength and range of motion. This isn’t something you want to speed up or accelerate. You don’t want to lengthen the tendon too soon because then that destroys the repair. It’s a very delicate process of getting the strength and length back into the tendon without overloading it too soon."

GARY VITTI

Q: Opening statement:
Vitti: Obviously when something like this happens, everybody wants to know why. And there’s not always a reason why. If you look at our season, it’s been a nightmare. We had a player come in with a surgery which was Dwight Howard, then we had Steve Nash break his leg, then we had Steve Blake have an abdominal surgery, then Jordan Hill with hip surgery, then we had Metta World Peace with a knee surgery. We also had Dwight with a labrum (tear) in his shoulder. Antawn Jamison will have surgery after the season on his wrist. When you try to look at the ‘why’s,’ it’s bad luck. If we’re going to look at why these guys are getting injured, then we have to look at why the years we had seven or eight guys playing 82 games. Why? Some of it is just bad luck.

The stuff out there with Kobe playing 48 minutes … if you want to say it’s 48 minutes, it has more to do with every minute you’re on the court, gives you an opportunity of being injured. You can’t be injured if you’re on the bench. If that’s your argument, I can see that. The odds increase with time on the floor. You can step on somebody’s foot, you can get yourself in a bad position and get injured. To say he was injured because he played 48 minutes the last however many games is a stretch. Lots of guys rupture their Achilles tendons and don’t play 48 minutes. To make that correlation isn’t fair. We’ve just had a very bad luck season, but we’re not done. Kobe showed some tremendous guts out there hitting the two free throws that kept us in the game, and eventually we won the game. The kid went up there with a torn Achilles tendon and buried two free throws. I think it’s a big inspiration to our players and we’re ready to play the next two games.

Q: On if he’ll be back by the beginning of the next season:
Vitti: That’s the plan. (Timetable recovery they said is six to nine months).

Q: On the severity of the injury:
Vitti: There are no good Achilles tendon ruptures. Third-degree rupture. It’s gone. It has to be sewn back together.

Q: On the next steps after surgery:
Vitti: He’ll be immobilized for quite awhile – a month or more. Then like anything else, he’ll start working on strength and range of motion. This isn’t something you want to speed up or accelerate. You don’t want to lengthen the tendon too soon because then that destroys the repair. It’s a very delicate process of getting the strength and length back into the tendon without overloading it too soon.

Q: On what makes him believe Kobe can win this battle:
Vitti: I said to him last night this is just another challenge in your life. The game of basketball comes too easy for you, so you need these things. The best thing you can do for us, as media, is say things like: ‘He can’t do it.’ That will force him to do it. He’s already taken the challenge. He’s already made the decision today to have the surgery. For us, it’s trying to keep him down and trying to slow him down.

Q: On if there’s anybody that could talk Kobe out of not playing:
Vitti: No, maybe his kids. Maybe his children.