‘Can’t Have All Defenders’: Magic Johnson Urges New York Knicks to Find Support for Julius Randle

Published 06/22/2021, 3:30 PM EDT
Jan 22, 2021; Sacramento, California, USA; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) reacts after making a basket while being fouled against the Sacramento Kings in the fourth quarter at the Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports


The New York Knicks had a breakout 2020-21 season with the duo of head coach Tom Thibodeau and franchise star Julius Randle at the helm. New York closed the regular season with a .569 record, with a 41-31 record, clinching the 4th seed in the East.

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The Knicks made the playoffs after a period of over 7 years, with their last stint being with Carmelo Anthony in 2012-2013.

May 16, 2021; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) celebrates with head coach
after their game against the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Randle, in combination with veteran star Derrick Rose, and other key role pieces like Reggie Bullock and RJ Barret created a recipe that helped resurrect the proud New York franchise.

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The franchise’s impressive run in the regular season also saw many disgruntled fans from previous seasons like Spike Lee and Stephen A. Smith put the Knicks on equal footing with the Brooklyn Nets Big 3 across town.

Also, Thibodeau’s appointment as head coach saw the team’s focus become predominantly defensive. The Knicks ranked amongst the top defenses in the league, with a net defensive rating of over 108.2 points in the regular season. Randle also had quite the season, averaging 24.1ppg/10.2rpg/6.0apg in 71 games this season.

Magic words for Julius Randle

Los Angeles Lakers legend Earvin Magic Johnson had a few words of advice for Julius Randle and the Knicks as he spoke about their season, while on the Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin show.

The Hall of Famer, who knows a thing or two about championship basketball as he won 5 championships and 3 F-MVPs with the ‘Showtime Lakers’ spoke about the Knicks season by saying, “If the Knicks don’t improve, they gonna be that same Knicks getting bounced in the first round.”

When asked about Randle’s season and his partial meltdown in the post-season against Atlanta, Magic responded by saying,

“I’m happy that they’re back. Julius played great. And also to he’ll be better in the playoffs next year because he now understands what teams will throw at him, and how they will defend them. But they have to get better. That’s it. You can’t have all defenders. You got to have guys that can put that ball into the basket, and that’s where Thibodeau got to balance now.”

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The Future

While the New York Knicks were certainly not championship contenders this season, they went through a passage of ‘righting the ship’ as they closed with an above .500 record, a feat they could not achieve since 2012-13.

Feb 21, 2021; New York, New York, USA; Julius Randle #30 of the New York Knicks dribbles against Jarred Vanderbilt #8 of the Minnesota Timberwolves during the first half at Madison Square Garden on February 21, 2021, in New York City. Mandatory Credit: Sarah Stier/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

And even though they flamed out in the playoffs, the season put New York back on the map as a robust market for potential free-agency signings in the coming season.

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Nikhil Naik

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