Los Angeles Lakers power forward Julius Randle was likely still in his crib when Kevin Garnett first donned a Minnesota Timberwolves jersey, stepped onto an NBA court and trash-talked his way through his first professional game. It was early November 1995, and Randle had not yet celebrated his first birthday.
While Garnett’s once-prolific offensive game may have slowed in the 20 years since, his mouth has not. So when Randle, in his second regular season contest ever, matched up with Garnett, in his 1425th game, it was no surprise that the veteran bodied up the young Laker, chirping at him only 21 minutes into the season.
The two became tangled deep in the paint on a Lakers field goal attempt, and at the dead ball a few moments later, Garnett approached Randle under the basket, got in his face and began to talk. The referee’s whistle quickly blew, but -- to the elation of Lakers fans everywhere -- Randle responded to Garnett, chirping back before the two were separated.
Minutes after their scuffle, with Randle taking the ball out of bounds and Garnett pressing Los Angeles’ ball handler, the power forward threw the ball off of Garnett’s back, caught it and brought it up himself. Got him!
A shrewd play? 100 percent. Intentionally disrespectful? Potentially. The end of the beef between these two big men? Not a chance.
“KG’s competitive,” Randle said later Wednesday night. “It was good to go up against him … I have the same confidence in my game, I don’t care who it is [I match up with].”
Asked if Garnett really did talk trash, the Laker said, “Of course.”
“I like that though -- it gets me going,” Randle continued. “… It doesn’t scare me. I’m not scared of anybody. The main thing is we know that’s his thing. That’s what he does, try to get in people’s heads -- I’ve been watching him all my life, so I knew what to expect.”
With Kobe Bryant’s retirement looming and no immediate championship prospects on the horizon, Lakers fans’ mindsets have become fixated on the future. The fight Randle showed on Wednesday will only endear him even more quickly to those who bleed purple and gold.
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