Gary’s contributions and work put into the team is/are invaluable and I’m sure the players think so too.

L.A. Times: Gary Vitti eased his way into a hat store in Cleveland on a recent Lakers trip in search of a lid for his bald head, when the door quickly opened and a man burst in.

“Hey, you’re Gary Vitti, the Lakers’ trainer,” the man blurted out. “You’re the man! You’re more important than the coach.”

Vitti rubbed his head and laughed at what he had just heard. “No, man,” Vitti said, smiling, “no way.”

When this story was shared with Lakers Coach Phil Jackson, he cracked a smile and laughed.

For 26 seasons Vitti has been the Lakers’ trainer, dating to the Magic Johnson “Showtime” era. And seven championships later, there is no downplaying the significant role he has played in the team’s success.

Vitti, 55, is responsible for the care of the Lakers’ prized multimillion-dollar assets, the one who treats their players and keeps them fit.

“It’s obvious that I think trainers are a major part of the scene,” Jackson said. “We have a really good staff. I’m not going to lay it all on Gary because I think Gary recognizes that everybody has their expertise.”

Vitti agrees, saying his entire staff plays a role in keeping the Lakers fit, including assistant trainer Marco Nunez, athletic performance director Chip Schaefer, athletic performance coordinator Alex McKechine, massage therapist Marko Yrjovuori and equipment manager Rudy Garciduenas.

“When a player gets hurts or sick, the first thing he does is come to me. Then I decide what we’re going to do,” Vitti said.

Continue reading ‘For Lakers trainer Gary Vitti, its more than a tale of tape’