Julius Randle and Kobe Bryant didn’t overlap too much as NBA players. Randle was drafted in 2014, and by that point, Bryant had only had 101 games left in his illustrious career. Randle missed many of them, as he missed all but one game during his rookie season thanks to a broken leg suffered on opening night.
But Randle’s success this season makes it clear that he picked up a lot from the Laker legend in their brief time together. Randle has used the second-most isolation possessions in basketball this season, and just as Bryant once did playing that style, Randle is thriving. He is averaging 23.9 points per game on a surprising Knicks team that is currently in line for the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference.
“Honestly I think about him every day. And it’s crazy that you mention that because I was talking to one of my teammates yesterday and he was like ‘bro, Ko probably would’ve come to the game here,’ and I’m like ‘yea he probably would’ve,’ and I was talking to my wife yesterday about it, and I was like, ‘man, this is kind of surreal,’ because just the journey throughout my career and how everything’s going right now, for me, I know, just the relationship I had with him, he would be proud. But yea man, it’s tough, because I would love for him to be able to see it. For me personally, I would love to be able to just, even throughout the course of last season, the ups and downs, and throughout this season, to be able to pick up the phone, text him, call him, and get advice or just talk. You take those things for granted a little bit, and for me, I think about it all the time, I literally think about him every day.”
Bryant certainly would be proud of the way that Randle has played this season. Randle is carrying an undermanned Knicks team in much the same way Bryant once carried some of his weaker Lakers rosters, and he’s doing it by fitting his own individual brilliance within the construct of his team. Bryant may not be able to see it, but his influence lives on in players like Randle.
Courtesy: CBS Sports