The tough love and accountability hovered over Julius Randle throughout his childhood. He grew up in a single-parent household where his mom ensured he studied well enough to maintain straight A’s. Randle played for an AAU team named the Texas Titans that included comprehensive workshops involving media training, etiquette tips and Bible study. And Randle has clung to these mentors both for guidance through adversity and for staying grounded through success.
Yet, that strict upbringing hardly compares to what Kobe Bryant has offered the Lakers’ rookie all through training camp. Both Bryant and Lakers coach Byron Scott talked to Randle, saying he has the potential to become an NBA All-Star one day IF he mimics Bryant’s work ethic. If not? Randle will just become another forgotten NBA player.
“It means he can’t [bleep] it up.” Bryant explained in more vulgar terms following the Lakers’ 98-91 preseason victory over the Utah Jazz on Sunday at Staples Center.
Once the initial laughter from reporters around him subdued, Bryant then offered another punchline. This one came at the expense of ESPN recently ranking him as the NBA’s 40th best player after appearing in only six games last season because of overlapping injuries to his left Achilles tendon and left ankle.
“If you [bleep] this up, you’re a really big idiot,” Bryant said. “ESPN are idiots, but you’re really a big idiot if you manage to [bleep] this up.”