‘Pick Up the Phone’: Knicks’ Julius Randle Remembers Kobe Bryant in an Emotional Admission

Published 04/23/2021, 10:29 PM EDT
Apr 12, 2021; New York, New York, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Andre Drummond (2) knocks the ball away from New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) in the third quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks are arguably the biggest story of this season, especially after their eight-game win streak that’s still up and running. The NY-based franchise is #4 in the EC, and this is the first time in eight years that they’re playing so consistently well. 


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The architect of the Knicks’ resurgence has been their star forward, Julius Randle. The Kentucky-Wildcats product is having a great sophomore year with the Knicks, and he has much to thank Kobe Bryant for that. 

Knicks’ Julius Randle went emotional discussing Lakers’ Kobe Bryant


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Knicks’ Julius Randle is double-teamed against the Lakers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

One must never forget his roots and always stay thankful to his first mentor(s). Julius Randle has learned this the hard way after losing his unofficial coach in Kobe Bryant.

The young star joined the Lakers after the organization drafted him #7 in the NBA Drafts 2014. That the Lakers picked him over Zach LaVine, Jusuf Nurkic, and even Nikola Jokic, proves that the man showed huge potential from his early days.

Beyblade was fortunate that he could play alongside Kobe Bryant in the latter’s final season in the league. Naturally, the youngster learned like a sponge from the 5-time NBA Champion, and those learnings are now coming in handy.

In a recent interview, the star expressed his respect for the Black Mamba and said with a heavy heart, “Honestly, I think about him every day… I was talking to one of my teammates, he was like bro Kobe probably would have come to the game. Then I was talking to my wife yesterday, it’s kind of surreal because it’s a journey throughout my career and how everything is going right now. For me, I know, just the relationship that I had with him, he would be proud.” 

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When the Black Mamba helped the youngster out of misery

Today, the fans see an All-star Julius Randle who is averaging a double-double every night. He is shooting at 41% from the perimeter and that has been a defining factor, adding to his career-high numbers. After having a rough last season, it is refreshing to see the man showing leadership in the locker room and making his contribution count.

However, back in the day, something had totally broken him. In his debut game for the Lakers, the rookie in Julius had suffered a fractured tibia in his right leg.

As devastating as it could get, the star almost instantly knew that his season was over. That was when a humble and wise Kobe Bryant had helped him come out of his ‘pity party’.

That day, a sobbing Randle received an uplifting message from Kobe, and it definitely became his strength. 

The 26-YO further expressed in his latest interview, “it’s tough because I’d love for him to be able to see it [Knicks winning]. For me, personally… even throughout the course of the last season, the ups and downs of this season, just being able to pick up the phone, text, or call him. Just take a little advice or talk whatever it is, you take those things for granted a little bit.”


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Who knows, maybe Kobe is watching him right from the side court, wearing a mask, and rising from his seat after every Randle steal. Amen!


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Sourabh Singh

1142 articles

Sourabh Singh is an NBA sports analyst for EssentiallySports, who has been working with the site since May 2020. Prior to this, he functioned as Managing Editor at WittyFeed, followed by a stint at Decathlon. The Sports Management graduate leads an active lifestyle, veering to the mountains for off-trail adventures.