The two-decade-long NBA journey of Kobe Bryant has produced uncountable tales of human resilience and determination. One such instance occurred in his final season as the Los Angeles Lakers icon dislocated his finger during a play against the San Antonio Spurs.
While trailing at home, the Black Mamba attempted to chase down the ball with two minutes left to play. The shooting guard slipped in the process before accidentally dislocating his right middle finger. Despite the seemingly painful injury, the 5x champion stayed composed as he walked toward the trainer Gary Vitti while holding the injured finger.
After a short yet precise conversation, Vitti comprehended the causation before initiating the treatment. The 67-year-old allegedly performed a reduction procedure to realign the injured finger of the 18x All-Star. Through this, the athletic trainer manipulated the dislocated area back to its original position. Right after that, the 2008 MVP re-entered the court before sharing a laugh about it with Tim Duncan.
In the post-match conference, the 2x Finals MVP reflected on the instance, stating, “Tried to go after the ball. Just slipped on the wet floor. As I slipped, put my hand down trying to balance myself. So my finger just jammed right into the floor and just popped right out”. “It hurt but I have been through worse pain,” he later added while shedding light on the extent of the injury.
His toughness failed to pay the dividends as the hosts lost 119-113 despite the best efforts of the Lakers talisman. Yet, his 25 points, 3 assists, and 4 rebounds kept the franchise in the fight defying all the odds. It showcased his grit as a competitor, propelling his status as a basketball icon. That kind of grit is beyond rare, not just today, but in the history of the NBA.
A closer look at the injury of Kobe Bryant
Nearly half a decade after the incident, Vitti shared his viewpoint on the injury in an episode of FAIR GAME. “If you could see my face, I really had to put a lot of traction on that bone to get it back in place,” he revealed.“When you see Kobe writhing in pain, you know it hurts. I put it in and as soon as I did, you could just see that his pain went away. Anybody else would have still been in pain,” the trainer added.
It displayed the seriousness of the injury despite Bryant downplaying it after the conclusion of the clash. His reaction might have sparked from the series of several moments he faced throughout his playing days. During one such instance, he infamously shot the ball with his left hand after playing through a right rotator cuff injury against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Tales such as these have set the benchmark for his contemporaries and the aspirants over the years. His ability to instantly bounce back at all times continues to serve as an exemplary moment in the NBA. Due to this, his endeavors have become larger than life as it transcended the realm of competitive sports.