WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 02: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates with Julius Randle #30 during a timeout in the second half against the Washington Wizards at Verizon Center on December 2, 2015 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

New York Knicks forward Julius Randle spoke about his close friend and idol Kobe Bryant for the first time since his tragic death.

Julius Randle, like many kids from his generation, idolized Kobe Bryant during his youth. Unlike most kids, Randle grew up to become an NBA player and actually play on the same team as his idol. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers during Bryant’s twilight years.

After Sunday’s game between the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets, Randle understandably left the locker room prior to media availability. On Tuesday during shootaround, he spoke to reporters for the first time since Kobe’s untimely passing.

“For me man, he was everything, bro,” Randle said. “That was my childhood hero growing up so it’s a very unfortunate situation for me, but I can’t imagine what his family is going through and all the families that are involved. My prayers are with them. He was the Mamba, so he was everything.”

Like a lot of NBA players, Kobe Bryant was the player that many of these guys admired most. Michael Jordan’s prime days happened when they were too young to experience or understand. Kobe, on the other hand, had some of his best moments when current NBA players were falling in love with basketball.

Randle had the fortunate experience of playing with his childhood idol. That experience meant the world to him.

“That meant everything to me. To know that anytime I could text him or call him, he would pick up the phone,” Randle recalled. “He’s like a big brother for me. And for me, like I said, he was everything because I grew up idolizing the guy. You couldn’t say anything bad about him. I worshipped the ground he walked on and to be able to be in L.A. and establish a relationship with him was amazing for me.”

Many players are going to work with heavy hearts for the rest of the season, Randle included.

NY/NJ hoops reporter (NBA/NCAA) & sports betting writer for XL Media. Never had the makings of a varsity athlete.