New York Knicks star Julius Randle experienced both the blessings and challenges of playing alongside Kobe Bryant during his time with the Los Angeles Lakers. While Bryant was undoubtedly one of the greatest players in basketball history, he also had a reputation for being demanding and tough on his teammates, and Randle was no exception.

The ex-Lakers forward joined Carmelo Anthony in Wave Sports + Entertainment Original podcast, sharing anecdotes about Kobe, his time with the Knicks, his injury and recovery and other topics.

Learning from Kobe Bryant

Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant (24) speaks to Los Angeles Lakers forward Julius Randle (30) during action against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the third quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

”I would say one thing that I learned from Kobe is, well I wouldn't even say one thing, but one of the things that I had to learn was as my career went on and I experienced things like the shit that he was saying to me back then, it didn't resonate,” said Randle when speaking about his early years in the NBA and being under Kobe Bryant’s wing.

“But as I had to go through certain stuff and then I'm like, ah, that's what this dude, was talking about. I was always listening, but it was just like he would say something, I'll be like, bro, what are you talking about? This don't make no sense…But then as I go through the process… and I improve and I experienced certain things, I'm like, okay, this what Kobe was talking about. This is what he was saying then. You know what I mean? So I had to go through things as I still am,” he continued.

Julius Randle's road to recovery

Randle also talked about his current health condition and his choice not to play while dealing with the injury.

He expressed his positive outlook on his health during the 7PM in Brooklyn podcast with hosts Carmelo Anthony and Kid Mero. Julius Randle mentioned being in good health and making progress, acknowledging that recovery is a gradual process that will take time.

Despite this, he feels ahead of schedule and confident in his health, ensuring that he will be prepared for the upcoming season.

“I’m feeling good. I’m healthy. I’ll be ready when the season starts,” Randle stressed.

Jalen Brunson's emergence as the new face of the franchise cast Julius Randle in a lesser light, overshadowing his stature within the team. Additionally, Randle's injury setback, a dislocated shoulder, came at a pivotal moment when the Knicks were gaining momentum following the OG Anunoby trade.

Randle's strong work ethic and competitiveness, instilled in him by Kobe Bryant, were evident as he tirelessly worked to return to the court.

However, Randle was scrutinized for his decision to undergo shoulder surgery that ended his season right before the 2024 NBA Playoffs.

New York's playoff run ruined by injuries

The Knicks forward expressed the difficulty of being sidelined during the Knicks' playoff run, highlighting the challenging process leading up to his decision for surgery.

“Yeah, it was terrible bro, to be honest. It was more so the process leading up to it… I had to really go through the process to see if I could play or not… That was tough to accept, because I’m the type of person who’s like, ‘Man, I’m getting through anything,” he said.

“So it was tough to accept. But it ended up being the best thing,” Randle continued.

Despite earning the second seed, the Knicks suffered a second-round defeat to the Pacers, primarily due to a slew of injuries. Randle was among five Knicks players who had to undergo surgery either during or after the season, alongside Jalen Brunson (hand), OG Anunoby (elbow), Mitchell Robinson (ankle, twice), and Bojan Bogdanovic (ankle, wrist).

Julius Randle and the Knicks future

Randle is managing his rehab process well, especially given his absence from most of the 2023 playoffs due to an ankle injury that required surgery afterward. His recovery is crucial for the Knicks' success during a pivotal 2024 free agency period.

This summer, Randle is eligible for a contract extension and has openly shared his desire to stay with the Knicks for the long term. He joins Melo as the second Knick to achieve three All-Star appearances since Patrick Ewing.

The team's chemistry is vital for Randle's smooth return. Still, like Bryant, he knows there's more work ahead.

“Everything that I wanted to envision happening is happening now,” Julius Randle noted. “We're still not there, but we're on the way.”