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Kobe Bryant Calls Pau Gasol Mid-Game from Hospital Bed, Lives Up to 'Coach Vino'

Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistApril 15, 2013

Kobe Bryant isn't going anywhere.

Ruptured Achilles, missing limbs—it doesn't matter. Whatever the Los Angeles Lakers do, he'll be a part of it, even if he's not playing. 

Bryant himself tweeted as much, broadcasting to the social-media sphere that he would phone the Lakers with any adjustments he had at halftime of Los Angeles' bout against the San Antonio Spurs.

He had to be kidding, right?

Well, Mike D'Antoni didn't think so. He admitted he would be turning off his cellphone so that Kobe couldn't reach him.

As it turns out, the Black Mamba wasn't joking. And while we can assume D'Antoni's phone wasn't handy (or on at all), trainer Gary Vitti's was (via Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times):

Bryant was immobilized at home Sunday but not far from the action, contacting Lakers trainer Gary Vitti at halftime.

"He texted Gary, 'I want to talk to Pau,' and Gary handed me the phone and I talked to him for a quick second," Gasol said.

Bryant's advice? "Just stay aggressive and continue to look at the rim and take the shots when they're there," Gasol said.

Per Bresnahan, Bryant also prerecorded a 30-second video that Mitch Kupchak showed the team prior to the game.

The message? Win. Or else.

Now, Pau finished with just seven points on 3-of-17 shooting, but the Lakers did heed Bryant's orders and won. Even if they hadn't, you have to appreciate Kobe's effort to remain involved from afar.

You also have to understand that, season-ending injury and all, Bryant isn't going anywhere.

On the rare occasions when he wasn't playing this season, the Mamba assumed the role of "Coach Vino." Being vocal in huddles, pulling players aside, drawing up plays for Dwight Howard—you name it, he did it.

Relegated to the sidelines (or a hospital bed), Kobe's scoring is no longer his greatest weapon. Now, it's his clipboard.

And his ability to motivate through fear, of course.

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