Kobe Bryant is one of the toughest NBA players to ever take the floor. Everyone remembers the iconic free throws he made after tearing his Achilles in 2013, but there are plenty of other Kobe stories that reflect his toughness and commitment to the game, even through his later career.
Bryant was playing for the Lakers when the San Antonio Spurs came into the STAPLES Center in February 2016 for their final match against Bryant. While the game was supposed to be a mismatch in favor of the Spurs, Kobe was going to give the Lakers everything he could in pursuit of a win. Bryant used to believe the Spurs were the reason the Lakers didn't win more championships during his time.
During the game, Kobe would slip while trying to gather the ball and dislocate his finger by placing his hand awkwardly on the hardwood after slipping. Instead of subbing out of the game, Kobe walked over to Lakers trainer Gary Vitti and made him pop the joint back in so that Kobe could return to the floor.
Vitti spoke about his experiences working with Kobe and went into depth about how Kobe reacted when his finger was dislocated and how the pair managed to deal with it.
"Dislocations hurt. There are different degrees of dislocation. If you see my face, I really put a lot of traction on that to get it back where it was, that's how dislocated it was. He was tough as he is. He was writhing in pain. 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 his pain went away. Anybody else would still be in pain, but he just walked back onto the court even before I taped it. I wanted to tape it but he was already gone."
This is yet another story that proves Bryant's dedication to the game was absolutely incredible. He didn't even wait for the Lakers to call a timeout, Kobe insisted on getting his finger adjusted while there was a dead ball.
Vitti would go on to say that Bryant had to get the finger taped to avoid further injury. The Lakers and Bryant would lose that game 119-113 as Kobe scored 25 points in the loss.