Although the Los Angeles Lakers won the 2020 NBA Championship, the years prior were fun to watch as the team had several young players who they drafted and groomed in their early years.
The former Laker young core has collectively had an excellent 2020-21 season, but none more so than Julius Randle on the New York Knicks. Randle has completely turned heads this year and is currently leading the Knicks to an unprecedented playoff berth as a first-time All-Star.
Randle’s time with the Lakers was met with mixed results, but during his tenure with the team, he developed a close bond with Kobe Bryant. In appearance on “The Woj Pod” podcast with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Randle opened up about he and Bryant’s relationship:
“Honestly I think about him every day,” Randle said. “And it’s crazy that you mention that because I was talking to one of my teammates yesterday and he was like, ‘Bro, Kob probably would’ve came to the game here,’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, he probably would’ve.’ And then I was talking to my wife yesterday about it and I was like, man, it’s just kinda surreal because the journey and 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.
“Yeah, man, it’s tough. It’s tough because I would love for him to be able to see it for me personally. I would love to be able just to– even throughout the course of last season, the ups and downs and throughout this season, just be able to pick up the phone, text or call him and get advice or just talk or whatever it is. 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.”
In the twilight of his career, Bryant took on more of a mentor role with the Lakers and Randle was one of the beneficiaries. With Los Angeles no longer contending for titles and eyeing the future, Bryant helped mold Randle as well as the other young players on the team.
Bryant’s impact on current players goes without saying, and his presence can still be felt to this day.
Randle dominates Lakers in Madison Square Garden
Randle recently showed no hesitation beating up on his former team as he destroyed them to the tune of 34 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, two blocks and one steal. Randle’s growth has been impressive to watch and should bring joy to Lakers fans.
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