An Open Letter To Julius Randle

Julius Randle,

Last year was difficult for all of us including you, and us Knicks fans didn't make it any easier for you. New York is one of the hardest places to play professionally. The New York media and fans can eat you up and spit you out alive, especially when things aren't going your way. Many fans forget that athletes are humans too, with human emotions, and sometimes get stuck in ruts. Athletes, in fans eyes, often are expected to preform day in and day out on some "god-like" level that athletes should be almost robotic with no bad days. These things seem more heightened under the New York spotlight, in a city that expects the best at all times. We have seen countless athletes unable to handle the bright lights and preform up to the standard of New York. We have seen athletes be shipped out for not being able to preform. We as fans are tough on our New York sports stars, we crave stars and demand them to play at a star level often putting unattainable expectations on athletes. It takes a special talent to be able to overcome the constant criticism and pressure to preform. It's not all bad playing in New York though, the energy the fans give is unmatched by any other fanbase. We are also a sucker for athletes who show a New York mindset, the rise and grind. We obsess over athletes willing to put in the work, grind and play with that blue collar hardnose style. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.

Julius Randle & Assistant Coach Kenny Payne

After one year into a two year deal with a team option for year three, we though you would be one of those who fade out of the New York spotlight, unwilling to grind and inability to preform for our city. Although I loved the signing, even I the even keeled fan, had doubts if this relationship would work. It wasn't because of lack of talent on your part, but you didn't fill the hole left in us Knicks fans. Well on behalf of all Knicks fans, thank you. When all went bad last year you could have just let it eat you up and slowly fade, but you didn't. Julius, you put in the hard work in the off-season, you came into camp in the best shape of your life, you bought in to a new coach and new system. You took last year personal and it shows. You have become the identity of exactly what coach Thibs system is. You have helped bring back energy not felt in this city in some time. You became the blue collared star we needed, putting the team first and your ego and stat stuffing aside. Going into the All-Star weekend it was unimaginable that our team would be this good, and you would be recognized for all your hard work with your first All-Star appearance. Even if we end up missing the playoffs this year, the excitement is back, the future is bright, and you are one of the main reasons we have to thank for this. You are no longer just a guy playing ball in NY, you are a Knick!

Thank you for your hard work, dedication, and energy you bring every single time you step on the court

-Zach Harris

Once a Knick, Always a Knick

Photo: Getty Images

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