Kobe Bryant may have suited up in the purple-and-gold armor for 20 seasons, but he wasn't the longest tenured employee the Los Angeles Lakers' lost this summer. That would be stalwart trainer Gary Vitti, who retired this offseason after helping keep Bryant and countless other players in uniform during his career with the franchise (Vitti will continue on in a consulting role).
Just like second overall pick Brandon Ingram acknowledged no player can fill Bryant's shoes for the Lakers, no one staffer will be able to fill Vitti's latex gloves in the same way for the franchise. Still, the Lakers began the process of moving on from Vitt on Wednesday, officially announcing the hiring of Marco Nunez as the team's new athletic trainer.
According to the team, Nunez previously spent time as an assistant trainer with the Lakers and served as head of the Los Angeles D-Fenders training staff for two years prior to that.
Assisting him will be former Los Angeles D-Fenders head athletic trainer Nina Hsieh, who worked for the Lakers' D-League affiliate since the 2008-09 season. Hsieh finishes her time with the D-Fenders after the team's run to the Finals.
Point guard Josh Magette, the D-League's assist leader and an integral part of the D-Fenders' run, says the team couldn't have made it so far without Hsieh.
"She was great," Magette told Silver Screen and Roll. "She had to take care of everything with us and was unbelievable. Our team wouldn't have been able to function without her."
It would seem like the Lakers made a couple of solid hires here, although if the team can make their jobs a little easier by staying healthy and away from the training table, neither they nor fans will mind.
All quotes obtained firsthand. You can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.