For New York Knicks forward Julius Randle, the NBA All-Star Weekend is sweeter the second time around.
Despite the 3-point contest dud and Team LeBron’s 184-175 loss in the All-Star Game, Randle enjoyed his second All-Star berth so much more than the first one.
“Yeah. 1,000 percent. This is way better,” Randle said before tallying the second-worst score (13 points) in the 3-point contest and realizing his dream to play with LeBron James in the All-Star Game. “I guess this is a true experience, and I’m having fun with it.”
“My family, my son, Ky, is here. He is having a blast. Jayce, my other kid, is having a blast,” the Knicks two-time All-Star added. “That’s really what it’s all about for me.”
Randle’s first All-Star appearance did not have this fanfare as it came during COVID-19’s surge in 2021. The usual three-day festivities were compressed into a one-day event in Atlanta with only about 1,500 people — masked and distanced — in attendance.
This time, Randle enjoyed all the trappings of being an All-Star and shared it with the people dearest to him.
The icing was that James picked Randle 10th overall in the All-Star drafting, a dream he revealed earlier in the week.
“I’ve never been able to play with [LeBron James, Paul George]. [I’d] start with those two,” said Randle before helping the Knicks win third straight in Atlanta last Wednesday when asked who he’d like to play with.
“I got a relationship with P, and I’ve never played with LeBron, so it’d be fun to do before he gets his old ass outta here,” he added which drew laughter from reporters.
Randle had 11 points, two rebounds, two assists, and one steal in 19 minutes as an All-Star reserve. He played with James for a brief time toward the end of the first quarter and in the early second quarter before the NBA all-time scoring leader did not return in the second half after he jammed his finger in the rim while attempting a chase-down block on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
James, who ended up with 14 points and four assists in 13 minutes, said nothing to worry about as his second-half benching was only a precautionary measure.
Randle had more time together on the floor with George, who struggled with eight points on 4 of 13 shooting night.
Boston Celtics’ star Jayson Tatum set the All-Star scoring record with 55 points to lead Team Giannis.
After three days of fun in Salt Lake City, Randle returns to grind as he gears up to lead the 33-27 Knicks for the stretch run beginning Friday in Washington against the Wizards.
Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo