Kobe Bryant tragically died in January 2020, but his legacy will live on through the NBA players he touched. Look no further than Julius Randle.
The Knicks forward played alongside Bryant with the Lakers from 2014 to 2016 as Bryant was putting the finishing touches on a Hall of Fame career. Randle brought some important lessons from Los Angeles to New York and has carried on one specific tradition that Bryant passed down to him.
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During Monday night’s game between the Knicks and Lakers, MSG Network’s Rebecca Haarlow explained how the spirit of Bryant continues to push Randle to improve.
“It was Bryant who taught him that, whenever you land in the next city for the next game, you hit the gym to put up shots before you go to the hotel, no matter how late or how inconvenient that may be,” Haarlow said. “It’s the game, and it’s the work that comes first. Well, last spring, not long after Bryant died, Randle landed in Detroit. It was late at night. The Knicks found a local high school that agreed to stay open super late so Randle could get that work in.
“When he arrived, the athletic director at the high school was waiting for him and said, ‘It’s good to see you. Guys don’t really show up here to do that kind of work anymore. Matter of fact, the last guy to come in and shoot late like this? It was Kobe.’ Randle said the moment gave him chills, that it was really emotional.”
The work is clearly paying off, as Randle earned the first All-Star selection of his career earlier this season and has helped put New York in position to earn its first playoff berth since 2013.
Haarlow noted that Randle is now joined by his Knicks teammates for those late-night shooting sessions. Bryant would undoubtedly be proud.