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Julius Randle Recounts Kobe Bryant Saying 'Throw Me the Damn Ball' in Final Game

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 20, 2021

Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant, left, talks with forward Julius Randle, right, during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies in Los Angeles, Tuesday, March 22, 2016. The Los Angeles Lakers won 107-100. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press

Former Los Angeles Lakers forward Julius Randle said Kobe Bryant jokingly delivered a warning during his final NBA game, a 60-point mic drop against the Utah Jazz in April 2016.

Randle, now with the New York Knicks, explained on Friday's The Old Man and The Three podcast that a play was called for him to get an in-bounds pass and he was planning to take a shot to start getting more involved in the offense.

Bryant warned the second-year forward that wasn't the best idea with the Staples Center crowd in a frenzy during the Lakers legend's last appearance.

"It was actually a funny part of that game because he had took the ball out and he had inbounded to me, and I was like: 'Yo, I'm about to come out. I'm shootin' this time' or whatever. And he was like: 'Yo, MF. If you want everybody in this arena to boo you, go ahead. But you better throw me the damn ball,'" Randle said.

The five-time NBA champion, who died in January 2020 aged 41 in a helicopter crash, finished his last game with 50 of the Lakers' 85 shots in a 101-96 victory.

Randle, who averaged 10.3 field-goal attempts per game during the 2015-16 season, took just four shots that night. But Bryant noted his decision to retire was about to open the offense to everybody else.

"After he was like: 'Yo, y'all lucky I'm retiring because if I was in my prime, bro, this is how it would be every night. You would throw me the ball like this every single night.' So it was dope, man. It was dope," Randle told podcast hosts JJ Redick and Tommy Alter.

Bryant finished his career with 18 All-Star appearances, 11 All-NBA first-team selections, nine All-Defensive first-team honors, two scoring titles and the 2007-08 MVP Award on top of numerous other individual and team accolades.

He'll be posthumously inducted in to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in May as part of its 2020 class. Last year's ceremony was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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