LOS ANGELES -- Julius Randle grimaced with every slow, methodical step, breathing heavily between clenched teeth as he leaned on the crutches and tried to move forward. He reached the table in the Staples Center news conference room, sat down and released a deep sigh of relief.
The Los Angeles Lakers rookie forward said Tuesday was the first day he left his house since breaking his right leg in his debut a week ago against Houston, likely sidelining the team's top draft choice for the rest of the season.
And in his first public comments since the injury, Randle, who was drafted seventh overall in June out of Kentucky, said he is focused only on moving forward.
"I haven't pouted," he said during halftime of the Lakers' 112-106 loss to the Phoenix Suns. "I haven't pointed the finger and said, 'Why me?' Honestly, there's just motivation. I can't wait to get back right so I can go out and be successful for my team."
The 19-year-old added later, "The best piece of advice for me and why I'm not upset or just down on myself right now is because it was in God's plan. Honestly, that's as simple as I can put it. He wouldn't put me through anything I can't get through. It was that simple."
Randle said his labored movements weren't because he was in pain. He was just dehydrated. The pain, he said, isn't all that bad, and he said it never really was, even when he suffered the injury, his foot buckling during a fourth-quarter drive to the basket.
"It was just a regular play," Randle said. "I just drove like any other time. When I went up, it felt like somebody kicked me."
He said he heard a "pop."
"I didn't even think it was my leg, because I didn't feel it," Randle said. "So I heard the 'pop' sound, but I didn't feel it. But I didn't even try to get up. My leg was just too weak. There wasn't any pain or anything. I was in discomfort, but there really wasn't any pain until I got on the X-ray table. It was more shock. Just upset. Because I knew as soon as I did it, I knew what it was."
Randle was told he'd have surgery the following morning, but he wanted it that night. Teammates have reached out, in particular Kobe Bryant, who suffered two serious injuries in recent years, a fractured knee and a torn Achilles.
"The night that I broke it, he had texted me," Randle said of Bryant, "and we were talking, and he was one of the main people that helped me really get out of my pity party, saying, 'It has happened to players before, you're not the first and you're going to have a great comeback. But your rehabilitation and your mindset starts now.'
"And it did," Randle added. "I've struggled [some] days. But at the end of the day, I'll be fine."
Randle said he also spoke with James Worthy, who broke his leg during his 1983 rookie season with the Lakers.
"He was saying how he sees so much of himself in me and it's just crazy that we had the same injury," Randle said. "I don't even think mine was to the extent of his. I think his was a little bit worse. We broke the same bone, but his was a little bit more complicated. But James really helped me."
As for a timetable, Randle doesn't want to rush it. He said he hoped to be walking with just one crutch in about six weeks and that he'd go from there.
"I'm going to go at my own speed and make sure I'm comfortable with what I'm doing," he said.
Randle broke his foot in high school and said that injury was nothing compared to his broken leg.
"Honestly, my foot in high school, I was so dramatic about it," he said with a smile. "I can't lie. I was upset, and my mom just had to get me going. I was just down, didn't want to do anything. This is way more serious. It's a 100 percent recovery, but [there is] way more pain and discomfort. My foot wasn't even a big deal, I don't think. After a couple days, I was off the pain meds. With this, there's way more to it, but my mindset has just been better."
He also believes he can use this time to improve the mental aspect of his game.
"Me playing, I can't watch as much NBA games and study guys as much as I would like to," Randle said. "But now I have all the time. I can look at guys, look at things that I need to work on, see how guys are doing it and apply it to myself."
But has the initial shock worn off? That he broke his leg in his first NBA game? That he's out for the season only minutes after it started?
"I've cried a couple times about it," Randle said. "I cried for 10 minutes, and I'm good. I don't know if I can say that it hasn't set in yet or what, but mentally, I'm telling you, mentally I'm good."