Knicks Julius Randle on his confidence, rivalry with Nets, and succeeding through adversity

Knicks Julius Randle on his confidence, rivalry with Nets, and succeeding through adversity

Randle hyped versus IND

Julius Randle shared insight on his confidence, playing in New York and more during an interview with hip hop legend and longtime Knicks fan Fat Joe his on Instagram show.

Here are a few highlights of the interview, which took place Thursday while the rapper was on a yacht for work and Randle was getting his hair braided:

On the confidence he is playing with

Randle worked hard in the offseason on his jumpshot, conditioning and other aspects of his game (as trainers Tyler Relph and Melvin Sanders explained on The Putback in January).

Maybe just as important was Randle’s mental approach. He came into the season with an unshakeable confidence. Obviously, that confidence has translated to the court.

The All Star forward is averaging 24.4 points, 10.4 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game.

Fat Joe witnessed Randle’s confidence in person when he was sitting courtside for Knicks-Pelicans earlier this month.

Fat Joe recalled Randle hitting a 3-pointer while being guarded by Zion Williamson. After he made the shot, Randle turned to Fat Joe and said, “Nobody can f–k with me!”

Fat Joe told the story during his interview of Randle. Randle laughed when Fat Joe mentioned it.

“You caught that?” Randle said. “That’s just, it’s the heat of the moment, man. That’s how I feel when I’m on the court. I got the extreme confidence and belief in myself… And my teammates got that same belief in me. So for me, that means a lot and I carry that on the court with me.”

Randle also talked about how well Tom Thibodeau and his coaching staff prepare the Knicks for each game.

“Every team we play against, it’s like it’s a playoff game for us,” Randle said of the level of detail that Thibodeau and the coaching staff reach with their game-plans/preparation. “. … It’s something about being prepared that breeds you that confidence.”

Knicks-Nets

Randle shared a funny Spike Lee story about his first Knicks-Nets game at Barclays Center last season. Due to the crowd breakdown, Randle said “it was like a Knick game” in the arena.

“This is how crazy the energy is: Coach’s drawing up a play. So we’re all in the huddle as a team. I look to my left, dog, Spike is the in the huddle!” Randle said with a laugh. “. … I’m like, ‘Yo, this is crazy!”

The Nets are one of the top teams in the NBA at the moment. They have a legitimate chance to win the NBA title this season. Randle is well aware of this. But he still believes that New York is a Knicks town (He’s right, I think).

“At the end of the day as a Knicks player, as a Knicks fan, when I signed up for here, I knew that the city was ours regardless. That’s how I feel,” Randle said. “But I know we’re fighting for the pride, for sure.”

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson shakes hands with New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) after overtime at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks won in overtime 122-112.

Built for New York

Randle also talked to Fat Joe about what he learned from 2019-20, his first season in New York. The Knicks finished the season 21-45 and team president Steve Mills and head coach David Fizdale both lost their jobs midway through the year.

Randle was the club’s biggest offseason signing after they failed to land top targets like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

He struggled with his shooting during the season and was learning how to be a No. 1 option and a leader.

“Sometimes you gotta go through something, sometimes you gotta learn,” Randle said of his first season with the Knicks. “I had to learn, I had to take my hits.”

To his credit, Randle didn’t run from adversity. There were reports – including one from SNY – about the Knicks considering trade packages that included Randle ahead of the 2020 trade deadline. Opposing teams expected Randle to be available via trade during the 2020-21 NBA calendar, particularly after New York selected Obi Toppin with its lottery pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.

Randle could have been demoralized amid all of the negative developments. Instead, he went to work in the offseason and is enjoying the best year of his career.

Now, Randle is firmly in the Knicks’ future plans. The club obviously wants to keep Randle in the fold because of his strong play on the court. But people in the organization also value and appreciate Randle’s ability to handle adversity in New York. They are impressed by Randle’s ability to thrive season after dealing with all of the negativity of last year, negativity that comes with being the face of a losing Knicks team.

Randle talked about his ability to handle the scrutiny of New York during his interview with Fat Joe.

“Everybody can’t come to New York and take the hits, take the hits of the city, take the hits of the media, take the hits of the fans,” Randle said. “It’s real.”

“That’s what I signed up for,” he added. “. … I felt like I was meant for this.”

What does the future hold for Randle? It seems like both the Knicks and Randle want him to remain in New York well beyond the end of his current contract.

The Knicks can offer Randle an extension this offseason worth $106 million over four years. Randle is under contract for next season, so the Knicks could also let Randle play out his contract. That would presumably allow Randle to hit unrestricted free agency in 2022.

It will be interesting to see how the Knicks approach Randle’s extension this summer.

Braided Randle

Randle was getting his hair braided during the interview. After Wednesday’s win over Chicago, he said he needed to get his hair re-braided because his teammates playfully messed it up during the game.

While talking to Fat Joe, Randle referenced the fan-generated correlation between how he plays when his hair is braided compared to how he plays when it isn’t. Fans who were on top of this trend will appreciate what Randle said in the interview: “The fans go crazy when my hair’s not braided so I gotta keep my s–t tight.”

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