Former Lakers coach Gary Vitti: "I shouldn't survive Kobe Bryant."


Few people knew Kobe Bryant better than Lakers head coach Gary Vitti, who had worked closely with the future Hall of Famer throughout his career. And what surprised Vitti the most was how unspectacular Bryant was from a purely sporting point of view.

"If you really look at Kobe from the perspective of a sports coach, there's nothing special about him." said CBS this morning,

And yet Bryant would be great.

"He worked harder than anyone I've ever seen," said Vitti, who retired with Bryant in 2016 after a 32-year career.

Bryant tragically died on Sunday at the age of 41 in a helicopter accident with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other children. After Vitti was honored in 2016, Bryant said of Vitti: “What he meant for my career is [something that] you can't really put it into words. "

Vitti fought back tears and shared touching memories. The two often joked that he saw Bryant grow up and Bryant saw him age.

Kobe Bryant dies in Gary Vitti's helicopter crash
Gary Vitti hugs Kobe Bryant in 2016.Getty Images

"I shouldn't survive Kobe Bryant," said Vitti, who is 65 or 66 years old.

His favorite memory was the 2000 NBA final against the Pacers, the first of five titles Bryant would win.

"He really blew out his ankle," said Vitti. "I mobilize his foot as if I were moving bones in his foot and suddenly he feels and I feel a bang … and I said, 'This will either be really good or really bad. & # 39; "

Bryant would score 28 points on the bad wheel and enjoy a remarkable career. But he was gone on Sunday.

"This is really a tragedy," said Vitti.