Julius Randle of the New York Knicks reacts after a...

Julius Randle of the New York Knicks reacts after a fourth-quarter three-pointer against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Madison Square Garden on Monday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

PHILADELPHIA — When the first results arrived Thursday from the fan voting for the 2024 All-Star Game, Julius Randle was nowhere to be found among the 10 frontcourt players named. And while Randle would like to be a part of the event for a third time, and his performance may land him there, it’s not a priority for him right now.

“No, not really,” Randle said Friday after the Knicks' morning shootaround at Temple University. “You know, the fans who do vote for me, I appreciate it. At the end of the day, I play to win games, win basketball games. My job is to win as many games as possible, try to win the championship. I’ve always said the personal accolades, they come with all of that. That’s really not my focus.”

Randle has been a two-time All-Star, both times earning a spot in the coaches' voting, and he has a strong case this time. He started the season slowly as he worked his way into form after offseason ankle surgery and has gotten better and better, averaging 24.4 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game entering Friday's nationally televised meeting with the 76ers. He had averaged 35.5 points in the last four games.

Some of the players ahead of him are obvious — Giannis Antetokounmpo is at the top of the list in the frontcourt, followed by Joel Embiid. Others such as Jimmy Butler (fourth place), who has missed 10 of 34 games, the Nets' Mikal Bridges (seventh) or Washington’s Kyle Kuzma (10th) are open for debate.

Like most seasons, Randle is unlike some of the stars. He has played in every game and the burden is growing on him and Jalen Brunson (who is sixth among Eastern Conference guards in the fan balloting). Randle is fourth in the NBA in total minutes played — averaging 37.7 minutes per game over the last nine games — and Brunson is third with nine more minutes played. (Chicago’s Coby White and DeMar DeRozan are 1-2 in total minutes played.)

OG Anunoby just arrived last week  and has taken note of what he sees in Randle. “He's a great player," Anunoby said. "Playing against him over the years [I saw], so try to learn stuff from him. And also he's a good teammate.”

With RJ Barrett gone and Mitchell Robinson sidelined likely for the season, Randle is the longest-tenured Knick.  Unlike some seasons when he seemed driven by mood swings on the court, he has changed his approach, clearly enjoying himself and playing to the crowd at Madison Square Garden and to his teammates.

“You saw? Yeah?” he said, laughing at reminders of him flexing to the crowd and raising his arms Wednesday to push the crowd to raise the volume in cheers. “A little flex, a little smiling. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I just think I’m just at a point in my career where obviously I wanna play the best basketball I’ve played in my career. I wanna continue to get better.

“But just I’m in the mindset of enjoying each moment. This is my 10th year in the league, and you go through phases in your career where you’re trying to establish yourself or trying to prove something or whatever it is. And for me, I’m only proving something to myself every night. Just trying to be a great teammate, play for our guys, try to win games, but most of all, more than anything, I’m just trying to enjoy each time I’m out there on the court.”

Asked about the $1.4 million bonus he would earn for making an All-Star Game, he insists he has no idea of what the number is — “I didn’t even know. I swear on my sons. I knew I got a bonus, something north of a million. But you think I’m focusing on that? I’m making pretty good money.”

For Randle, it’s an opportunity to take his place among the best in the game — and to bring his family along. Last season at All-Star Weekend in Utah, he brought his son Kyden with him to interviews and the three-point shootout.

“Always it’s for my kids more than anything,” Randle said. “This whole experience of the NBA in general, you know, I make a lot of sacrifices as far as time spent away from them, missing a lot of things. So I try to bring them around as much as I can, try to enjoy this as much as I can with them."


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