The New York Knicks entered the 2019 offseason with a clear objective in mind: landing a bonafide superstar with the chance of pulling off a two-for-one in getting both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. As luck had it, the Knicks ended up with empty hands—or did they?
New York ended up signing—among many other second-tier-at-best players—Julius Randle to a three-year, $63 million deal that summer, making him the face of the franchise along with former Knick and third-overall pick in the 2019 draft RJ Barrett.
Randle was coming off a career year with the Pelicans in which he averaged 21.4 PPG after spending four seasons in Los Angeles before inking a one-year deal with New Orleans the season before to keep raising his stock following subpar years (except 2018) with the Lakers.
Now in his fifth season playing hoops under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden, Randle is the most veteran player (albeit still 29 years old) in the Knicks' roster outside of Evan Fournier. If this was the 90s and we lived in a videogame, Randle would be the undisputed 1B to Jalen Brunson’s 1A in the Knicks NBA Jam two-man lineup.
Randle visited Marc Stein and Chris Haynes as a guest on the #thisleague UNCUT podcast hosted by the latter two last Monday, Jan. 15, and he touched on everything from playing in New York to some of his veteran teammates, his approach to critics, Jalen Brunson’s talent, and what’s going around the team in this new OG Era.
You can listen to the full episode if you want the tiny, gritty, fine raw details and soundbites of the conversation, but here’s most of what Randle said.
On people criticizing his game and whether that’s unfair or not...
“Criticism is just a part of it. For me, I’m just under a different microscope here in New York. The light here is just different.“
“It’s fine. I don’t focus on it, to be honest. I always focus on the process.”
On how he’s handled critics and turned those comments into points of emphasis to improve upon...
“I couldn’t shoot when I first got into the league, it was all bullyball. As the years have gone on, I’ve developed that. The critique when I first got into the league was that I couldn’t shoot. Now it’s that I shoot too many threes.”
“It’s now you shoot too many threes or whatever it is. I think, but at this point now in my career, I’m just starting to find the balance of both.”
On the difference between growing up in Dallas, playing at Kentucky, and now on the largest stage at MSG in New York...
“(The spotlight) is a lot brighter. Our fans live out every game. Every game is like a Super Bowl to them. I remember being an opposing player going into the Garden and every time you step in, you want to have a big night. The fans here are so passionate, they want to win every game. They’re hungry. The longer you’re with it, the more you appreciate it.”
On learning how to play in New York City and the Knicks environment...
“I can’t speak for anybody else, but for me, I had to learn it myself. Based off of like who you’re like, what your personality is, I feel like it can bring the best out of you.”
“I’ve been in the Garden and got booed, and I’ve been in the Garden and got MVP chants. But for me, it’s not about either one of those. It reminds me to focus on the process, focus on the daily grind, what I’m putting into it every day, and let the results speak for themselves.”
On being a New York Knicks player...
“It’s great. For me, this is all about career and legacy. When I had the opportunity five summers ago to come to New York, this is everything that I said I wanted to do from an individual standpoint.”
“I wanted to establish myself as one of the great Knicks. I wanted to be a part of that tradition and that legacy and that culture.”
“But ultimately, that’s not what it’s about for me. It’s about success and winning. My son probably enjoys (being in New York) more than me, though.”
On Jalen Brunson improving the New York Knicks play and deserving an All-Star spot...
“It definitely should and could be the case. JB was hooping last year, and he had every right and reason to make the game. We bring the best out of each other. When you got someone like that who brings the best out of you, you can’t be slacking.”
On which veteran helped him the most earlier in his career...
“I had some great vets. I had some great vets. I remember one of the first that took me under his wing when I first got in was Ronnie Price. He was like, he told me ’Enjoy this shit, bro, because you gonna look up and you gonna be in year 10 and it’s going to go by fast.’ And like, I always remembered that every year we’re passed by, I’ll be like, ‘man, this shit is going fast.’ It’s going fast. And I look up now I’m in year 10.”
“I had Wesley Johnson, obviously I had Kobe Bryant. The bad ones? I was going to talk about the bad ones... Lou Williams (joking), was a good one, he was a great one. I had dudes like Nick Young, like Jordan Hill—I love them to death. They keep everything light, they keep the energy great in the locker room. They can see that you’re down in a bad stretch, and they come get you out of it. They make you not take this shit so serious all the time.”
On the OG Anunoby trade forcing Randle to adjust his game with more on-ball time now...
“It’s really just open things up, to be honest. You know, it just made me a little bit more aggressive as a scorer, also a playmaker as well, you know, because the floor is so spread out and open.”
“We got real knockdown shooters. And for a guy like me that does a little bit of everything—but to my core I’m aggressive, I attack the basket, I’m a downhill type of player—to have that space and those players around made the game easier for me, for sure.”
On being more comfortable than ever in New York these days...
“Yeah, accurate. Very accurate. Like I said, you guys asked me earlier, can you be prepared for [New York] or you got to go through it? And I feel like for me, like I said, I had to go through it.”
“Every year I just get more comfortable. It’s almost like the city’s kind of made me, like, bulletproof in a sense, to where it’s like I don’t feel any type of criticism.”
“I would definitely say I’m more comfortable than I ever have been. I even felt that, like, I think this summer. I lived in the city for the first time and I’m just like, man, this feels like home.”