Julius Randle wasn’t even 2 years old yet when the Lakers made a Draft-day trade for a high schooler named Kobe Bryant. He was 5 when Kobe and Shaquille O’Neal won their first title in Los Angeles. And in the next 14 years, as he grew from little kid to Lottery lock, much in the NBA changed. Kobe though, he didn’t.
Randle watched older generations retire and newer ones supplant them. He was 8 when LeBron James went first overall to the Cavs, 12 when the Seattle SuperSonics got Kevin Durant. This was how things went. Kerry Kittles retired, Stephon Marbury went to China, Allen Iverson finally retired.
But Kobe just kept going, eventually joined by fellow Class of ’96 member Steve Nash. Dwight Howard got pushed out of town. It didn’t seem like the old timers wanted to make room for the next generation. But there was Randle on the board at No. 7, and the Lakers were on the clock, and that was that. So in his first pre-season game, Julius had a decision to make. Would he step aside as so many Lakers had done before, or would he step up? It was really no choice at all.