New York Knicks forward Julius Randle is in the midst of a breakout campaign with the New York Knicks that saw him earn his first All-Star nod. Randle’s work ethic is second to none, and it’s great to finally see the fruits of his labor translate on the court and into team success. Apparently, no less than Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant instilled that very work ethic in him.
The first time All-Star wrote a very personal piece on his NBA journey on The Players’ Tribune and shared an inspirational Kobe Bryant teaching story that will make you miss The Mamba even more.
Randle, who missed his entire rookie campaign after suffering a broken leg in his NBA debut, laid out the setting when he played his first career game in his hometown of Dallas in his second NBA season. The 6-foot-8 forward had prepared plans to meet family and friends the night before playing the Mavericks. But apparently, Bryant, who was in the midst of his final NBA season at the time, had other plans for the then-20-year old Randle.
So then we get off the plane, we ride to the hotel, and — ha. Wow. I will never forget this. We’re coming up on the hotel in Dallas, and Kobe turns to me and he goes, “Julius, what you bout to do.”
I’m like, “I’m about to see my family, chill with some friends, you know. Have a night.”
And Kobe, he just cuts me off. He’s like, “Nah. We’re going to the gym.”
Randle, of course, couldn’t say “no” to The Mamba himself. From then on, he revealed, the practice of going to the gym and putting in some work upon arriving at the hotel during a road trip became the routine for the hefty lefty.
This final part of Randle’s Kobe Bryant story will just hit you right in the feels.
David Yapkowitz ·
And what’s crazy is…. O.K., here’s the end of the story. So we’re in Detroit last season, on a road trip. And we fly in, I grab my bags, and like I said: it’s been my routine ever since that night in Dallas. Get off the plane, head to the gym. Get off the plane, head to the gym. Get off the plane, head to the gym. Like clockwork. Every city, though, it’s a new situation — there’s different places available. So what I’ll do is, I’ll have the team set up a spot in advance. And that way I can go straight there, however late it is, and get my workout in.
On this particular trip, in Detroit, they had this little high school gym opened up for me. I love gyms like that — simple and old school. And I get to the building, and the guy who was there to let me in, I think he’s the athletic director of that school, we start talking a little bit. And he’s like, “It’s good to see you. Guys don’t really show up here to work out anymore. Matter of fact, the last guy to come in this late to shoot — man, that must have been years ago. It was Kobe.”
I mean, just hearing him say the name….. it gave me chills.
Randle revealed that this happened just around a month after Bryant’s untimely passing. Everything just comes full circle doesn’t it? And as Randle experienced, everything happens for a reason. Certainly, Kobe is one of the biggest reasons why Randle is the player and person he is today.