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    It’s been a while since anyone wrote that the New York Knicks are the hottest team in the NBA, but the Knicks are definitely a huge surprise this year. A big part of that is their All-Star Julius Randle. Julius Randle is the favorite right now to win the NBA Most Improved Player award, but the way he’s been playing, Randle (23.7 ppg, 10.5 rebounds) should get consideration for MVP.

    Name: Julius Deion Randle

    Born: November 29, 1994 (age 26 years) in Dallas, TX

    Height: 6’ 8”

    NBA draft: 2014 (Round: 1 / Pick: 7)

    Position: Power forward, Center

    Salary: Signed a 3 year / $62,100,000 contract with the New York Knicks, including $56,700,000 guaranteed, and an annual average salary of $20,700,000. In 2020-1, Randle will earn a base salary of $18,900,000 and an incentive bonus of $945,000

    Favorite Player Growing Up: Kobie Bryant

    This season you have officially broke out as an NBA all-star. To what do you attribute that to?

    Honestly, it’s really about the team. Me and Thibs will talk about it all the time. Thibs tells the team all the time: When a team does well, everybody’s value goes up. We’re playing well as a team. As a unit, guys are making me look good. I’m doing my best to try to help other guys out. It’s really just a tribute and an honor to our team, how well we’re playing right now. We’ve just got to keep it going.Winning takes care of all that. Everybody gets recognized on a higher level when we’re winning. It feels like we have a collective purpose.

    How much have the fans in the Garden grown to love you this season?

    It’s cool man the love you get in the Garden, the love they’re showing me is amazing. It feels really good. I’m not going to lie, it’s motivating me to keep working harder and bringing it every night.

    What’s so special about this Knicks team?

    Every game we come in, we expect to win. It just feels like something good is happening.

    What’s your typical game day routine?

    I wake up, do my meditating and devotional to make sure my mind is right. We’ll have a shootaround and I’ll come back home usually. On game days, I like a huge breakfast. It’ll be some eggs, preferably an omelet, some protein. It has to be huge. My chef does a good job at switching things up with what I like. I’ll take a nap, wake up and meditate again for about 30- 45 minutes. My chef usually has a small pre-game snack for me, like a sandwich or wrap. I’m not huge on eating much before the game. Once I have my snack and energy drink Celsius, I have a physical therapist I work with at the house to get my body right. I’ll get to the arena and do some contrast with the cold and hot tub, get some more stretching in and then it’s time to warm up, get my shots up—then it’s time to go to work. It’s well known that growing up Kobe Bryant was your favorite ball player.

    What was it about Kobe that made you love him so much?

    He had no weakness on the offensive end, and on the defensive end he was an assassin, too.