The Los Angeles Lakers introduced incoming rookie Julius Randle at their practice facility Monday, holding a press conference for the seventh-overall pick on the eve of free agency. The start was slightly delayed, but eventually general manager Mitch Kupchak, Randle and Jim Buss emerged for the big "welcome" moment:
The press conference went as any honeymoon-moment in sports does. Randle gushed about the franchise and emphasized he'd been a lifelong fan of the purple and gold. He spoke glowingly of the opportunity to work with Kobe Bryant. "It just felt like the right place for me," he said when asked why he felt so confident about his workout with the Lakers.
So far, so good.
Randle said he "always" plays with a chip on his shoulder after being asked how he felt about making the other six teams that passed on him pay. His motivation? "I hate to lose. That's one of my biggest motivations." Answer after answer, Randle said the right things. Randle said he's already been warned Bryant will have high demands, but he genuinely sounds like he's up for the challenge.
Even in his post-conference interview with Lakers Nations' Serena Winters, he was still on fire. When asked what his nickname would be, he went with "Black Panther" since Bryant already took "Black Mamba." You can see the full interview below:
He plans to play in Summer League, but the team still hasn't come off committed one way or the other regarding his participation in the Vegas circuit. The Lakers will send Randle to a third specialist on Tuesday to know, for certain, whether or not he'll need corrective surgery, according to the Los Angeles Daily Times' Mark Medina.
Randle's health is a concern, but the 19-year-old player is already preparing for the long-term. He acknowledged one of his biggest areas of opportunity to grow as a professional athlete is how he takes care of his body. He pointed to Tim Duncan and Bryant playing deep into their careers as motivation to focus on his personal care.
All in all, it was a good launching point to Randle's career with the Lakers. He came off confident and ready to put in the necessary work to become great in the NBA. Even with the roster in flux, Randle said he'd work to earn his place in the starting lineup.
Here are some more moments as captured by the Lakers' social media team:
And your first look of Randle in uniform: