Laker great Kobe Bryant isn’t exactly going easy on the new kid. Kobe had some choice words for Julius Randle, telling the Laker rookie to take advantage of the huge opportunity he’s got. Of course, being Kobe, he put it in much more colorful terms.
Kobe has never been one to mince words, and he wasn’t exactly gentle in one recent interaction with Laker rookie Julius Randle. It’s not as if Kobe put the pine to Randle, but he let the rookie know exactly what page he should be on in terms of being a Laker.
More Kobe on Randle:”If you F this up, you’re a really big idiot. ESPN are idiots, but you’re really a big idiot if you manage to F this up”
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) October 20, 2014
Kobe on Julius Randle having him and Byron Scott as mentors: “It means he can’t f— it up. If you f— this up you’re a really big idiot.” — Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) October 20, 2014
The swipe at ESPN, of course, calls back to Kobe’s recent beef with the sports news network. In ranking the active players in the league before the NBA season kicks off, ESPN stuck Kobe at 25, citing his recent history of injury and poor production when he was was able to get on the floor.
Kobe fired back, of course – because Kobe. – calling ESPN idiots. That netted a sterner response from ESPN, with a stat nerd from the network calling Kobe “overrated” and saying ESPN had actually ranked him that high only out of “respect.”
Otherwise, Kobe was referring to Randle’s opportunity to play alongside himself, of course, but also another Laker great, Byron Scott. Kobe will go down as one of the all-time Laker greats, but longtime Laker fans will remember Scott from the glory days of the Showtime Lakers.
Not many players have gotten the chance to be tutored by two luminaries on a team with such history, and Kobe seemed to want to press the point to Randle.
It’s not just tough love from Kobe, though. The Laker great was likely communicating to Randle not only what Kobe wants – championships – but what the franchise wants – also championships. After an absolutely brutal season that saw Los Angeles in the Draft Lottery, Lakers selected Randle with the seventh overall pick. They could have traded that pick away for any number of other players, but they held onto it and picked up Randle.
Of course, this could just be Kobe’s storied competitiveness surfacing again. The Laker guard is monomaniacally focused on winning, a fact that has reared its head many times in the past. Before his choice words for Randle the Rookie, Kobe took shots at former Laker coach Mike D’Antoni, saying that he and D’Antoni didn’t have the same outlook on winning.
“[D’Antoni] didn’t have the same philosophy [as me] on winning,” Kobe said at the time. “For me, it’s winning and no in between… it’s championship or a waste of time.”
Reportedly, the Lakers’ new head coach has roughly the same mindset as Kobe, but they’ll be hard-pressed to realize that mindset in a stacked Western Conference. The Lakers were on the outside looking in for last year’s NBA Playoffs, and it’s not like the competition got any easier.