Julius Randle against the Cleveland Cavaliers on April 23, 2023. Apr 23, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) looks to make a pass during game four of the 2023 NBA playoffs against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Athletes’ decisions on if and when to speak to the media have long been a topic of discussion, but they’ve been a particular one in the NBA over the past few years. From Golden State Warriors’ forward Draymond Green declining to talk to media so he can go home and do his “new media” podcast through Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets picking up repeated fines from the league for Irving refusing mandated media availabilities while he was with that team, there have been plenty of controversies along those lines. And the latest came Monday morning, with both TNT’s Charles Barkley and ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith blasting New York Knicks’ forward Julius Randle for dodging media after the team’s 102-93 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers Sunday (where Randle had just seven points, on three-of-10 shooting, and two assists in 27 minutes, and was benched in the fourth quarter). Here’s how Barkley weighed in on that on TNT’s Inside The NBA after that game, in the early hours of Monday morning:

“I was disappointed. I hate players, and I like Julius Randle, he’s a very good player and a nice kid, I hate players who only speak to the media. when things are going good. You don’t, it doesn’t work like that. And what disappoints me the most, his team actually won. First of all, he was not playing well, he wasn’t playing well. But you don’t get to talk to the press just when things are going good. But also if your team won the game, you’re supposed to be happy y’all won the game. I mean, that’s very disappointing from a hell of a player who’s a good dude.”

And here’s how Smith (previously seen not being thrilled about the Knicks’ initial signing of Randle after they missed out on Kevin Durant in 2019) criticized that on ESPN’s First Take later Monday morning:

“By the way, Julius Randle himself, this dude right here, is shooting 10 for 38, that’s 26 percent, whenever guarded by [Evan] Mobley. He didn’t get anything done. For Tom Thibodeau to bench him was a big deal, because that’s his dude. And for Julius Randle to walk out and not talk to the media after that, bro, I ain’t saying you are, but that move right there yesterday was weak. This is why New York gets on you, because when things are going right, you good. The second things go wrong, Julius Randle cowers.”

Kendrick Perkins and Monica McNutt joined Smith’s criticisms there. Perkins said “You cannot do that. Real quick, Draymond Green, let me applaud him. I know we’ve had our ups and downs, but let me applaud Draymond Green, because he actually set the bar and did a teaching moment last night when he talked about coming off the bench and the sense of entitlement. That’s the true definition of losing yourself in the team. When you got a team goal, it’s bigger than one individual. And I agree with you on this, Stephen A. Julius Randle, you can’t do that. you cannot do that.” McNutt then says “I agree with you guys on that. I wanted to give Julius the benefit of the doubt on the ankle thing, but walking out on the presser is not the move. You can’t skip that part.”

Those are certainly some notable criticisms for Randle’s media decision here from a variety of prominent media figures. But he’s far from the only NBA figure to do that; as noted above, Green and Irving in particular have done a lot of media-skipping in the past, as have some others. And currently-controversial Memphis Grizzlies’ forward Dillon Brooks skipped his second straight post-game media conference Sunday night too. It will be interesting to see where the media-avoiding decisions go from here these playoffs, and how commentators continue to weigh in on them.

[The New York Post, photo of Randle in Sunday’s game from Wendell Cruz/USA Today Sports]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.