Behold, the king of New York.
He goes by Julius Randle, and he’s the poster child of a Knickerbocker renaissance that hearkens back the fond inspiration that the Knicks teams of the 90s brought.
The Knicks’ budding superstar dropped a monstrous 40 points with 11 rebounds, and six assists in a 137-127 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night to improve their winning streak to eight games while moving alone into fourth place in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
If the season were to end today, that means the Knicks would be hosting a first-round playoff series — seemingly an unthinkable scenario for this franchise last year… or any of the previous six seasons.
“Fourth place sounds good, but we’re not done yet,” Randle said. “We have a long way to go.”
Randle has embodied the on-court resuscitation of a dormant NBA giant that received a vital face-lift in the front office with president Leon Rose and on the bench with head coach Tom Thibodeau — who re-introduced the blue-collar, tenacious work ethic that sparked some of the great Knicks teams of yore.
Thibodeau’s star player is also proving to be one of his greatest disciples, ensuring that a young, rather inexperienced roster doesn’t get lost amidst the franchise’s longest win streak in seven years.
“This is not about just getting fourth-place or whatever it is,” he said. “We’re trying to build something, we’re trying to build a culture, do things the right way.
“We have a team where we all believe in each other so we feel like we can do anything. Anything is possible for us.”
In this new system, Randle is having the best season of his six-year career, averaging 23.9 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 6.1 assists per game — all career-bests — while leading the NBA in minutes played.
Truly an ironman to go with his new talismanic standing — and an unexpected face of the franchise as a veteran now with his third team for supporters that had been waiting years for one of their young hopefuls to develop toward stardom
But the Knicks’ well-known, two-decades-long slump was not lost on the 26-year-old, who amped up an excited fan base even further
“New York, we here!” he exclaimed to the Madison Square Garden faithful after speaking with MSG Network following his big performance on Wednesday.
It’s about time, too.
With 12 games remaining to bolster their place amongst the top half of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, the Knicks have three games remaining in their Madison Square Garden homestand beginning Saturday afternoon (1 p.m. ET) against the Toronto Raptors.