Seven weeks since fracturing his tibia in the season opener, Julius Randle is entrenched in the long process back to the court.
Randle, who is expected to miss the remainder of the season, has been off crutches for about a week, which was a big step according to him.
“The doctor said, ‘Go at your own pace,’” Randle said. “My pace was to get rid of them immediately.”
In addition to walking without crutches, Randle has also been working out on the Alter-G anti-gravity treadmill in order to start regaining the strength in his leg. However, he also claims that his work on the mental side of the game has been a priority alongside maintaining physical fitness.
“There are things that I know I need to work on, and (I’m) just watching how guys take care of their body throughout the course of a season, stuff like that,” Randle said. “It’s little things that I know will help me next year for sure.”
Randle, a University of Kentucky product, also visited his old stomping grounds this past week to attend a Wildcats home game. There he chatted with his former teammates about what it’s like being in the NBA, especially on the same team as Kobe Bryant.
“He’s just a competitive guy,” Randle said, “and (he) expects the best out of us. … I can’t say it’s (anything) that I didn’t expect. Like I said, there’s a reason why he is who he is.”
While in Lexington Randle met up with his college coach, John Calipari, who offered advice for the Lakers rookie.
“I talk to Coach all the time,” Randle said. “(He said) just to stay patient with it. He knows I’ll come back stronger. But he also says, ‘Don’t use this time as a vacation or whatever you want to call it. Use this time to learn and grow as a player. You know what you need to work on to prepare for the next season. Use that as preparation.’”