Kevin Durant branded Stephen Curry a "big dog" for his display as the Golden State Warriors overthrew the Cleveland Cavaliers for their second NBA title in three years.
Curry put up just 14 points in a disappointing game four of the Finals at Quicken Loans Arena – he only scored fewer points in eight games across the regular season and playoffs – but claimed a 34-point double-double as the Warriors clinched a 4-1 series win on Monday.
His response earned high praise from team-mate Durant, who has been impressed by how much he much he is willing to sacrifice for the team.
"What about Stephen Curry out there? Not having a great game in game four, came out tonight and played like a big dog – 15 three throws, 10 assists, 34 points," Durant said after their 129-120 win. "Say what you want about him he played like a big dog all series.
"I've never seen anybody like him. I told him last night, 'when you play with force, I've never seen a player like you before' and he played with force tonight.
"The stuff you hear about Steph as far as sacrificing and being selfless and caring about his team-mates and other people is real, it's not a facade. He really is like that. It's amazing to see a superstar who doesn't care about anything but the group.
"We've been doing these 30-35 sessions, that's what we call it, we've been doing it all season and probably since the second round of the playoffs and it definitely paid off for us."
Curry came under fire earlier this season amid perceptions he had taken a back seat to try and enable Durant to settle following his free agency switch from the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The point guard and two-time MVP admitted it took him time to realise he, as well as all his team-mates, could work together seamlessly without stepping off the pedal.
Curry said: "I've learned a lot about myself. We've talked a lot about the Christmas Day game and events leading up to that game where we understood how we all needed to be aggressive and be the players that we are every single night, and we can all show up every night and be ourselves and really achieve the potential that we all have together.
"There was a point where I tried to analyse and control the situation and make sure everybody was happy and honestly after that Christmas Day game I understood that we have such high IQ players that if I can be aggressive and do what I need to do every single night, everything will flow from that.
"The proof is in what we were able to accomplish from that point on in the regular season, being 16-1 in the playoffs, everybody being the best version of themselves and putting all the puzzle pieces together."
On Durant, who was named Finals MVP, he added: "It's kind of crazy to think about the conversation we had this summer and going into the year about how we can both mesh and gel and do what we do and be the players that we are and to see it come to life in this series was unbelievable.
"We're obviously just getting started, this is something that we want to continue to do."
26. September 2018
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|Angels star Ohtani to undergo Tommy John surgery|
|Simeone tips Gimenez to be fit for Madrid derby|
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|Rams CB Talib to have ankle surgery|
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|Coyotes forward Galchenyuk expected to miss opener|
|Guardiola won´t compare Foden to Iniesta|
|Lampard shell-shocked as Derby win at Old Trafford|
|Ryder Cup 2018: USA celebrities take the honours|
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|Guardiola: Foden already a great, great player|
25. September 2018
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|Manchester United 2 Derby County 2 (Derby win 8-7 on pens): Lampard heaps pressure on Mourinho|
|Afghanistan snatch tie after Shahzad pummels India|
|Inter 2 Fiorentina 1: D´Ambrosio maintains Nerazzurri revival|
|Oxford United 0 Manchester City 3: Foden stars as EFL Cup holders cruise into round four|
|Cousin takes Gabon post after Aubameyang rejection|
|Bayern Munich 1 Augsburg 1: Neuer error costs champions|
|Paris Saint-Germain must be a Champions League force to help Neymar - Baptista|
|Salgado warns of ´war´ in Spanish football|
|Cech deserves Arsenal place, says Seaman|
|Halep and Garcia among seeds to fall in Wuhan|
|F1 Raceweek: Mercedes taking no comfort in points advantage|
|Benitez charged by FA for referee comment relating to Zaha treatment|
|Cibulkova dumps out hampered Halep in Wuhan|
|Mourinho questions his players amid reports Pogba won´t captain United again|
|European Ryder Cup diary: Fleetwood´s hair delights Poulter|
|USA Ryder Cup diary: Tiger´s roaring reception, McEnroe´s bold prediction|
|Loans to be limited under new FIFA proposal|
|Prolific Nadolo signs new Montpellier contract|
|Modric? For us, Messi is the best – Valverde|
|Murray makes winning start in Shenzhen|
|Mickelson would cherish first victory on European soil|
|Hodge hoping pressure proves too much for South Africa|
|Woodward in show of support for under-fire Mourinho|
|Mickelson jokes he wants ´a shot a side´ from Tiger in Thanksgiving showdown|
|Reed: Captain America is a villain in Europe|
|Duminy to captain Proteas as Elgar replaces injured Amla|
|No Tottenham timeline for Lloris, Vorm returns|
|Woods ready for ´awesome environment´ on Ryder Cup opening hole|
|Tony Bellew determined to prove doubters wrong against Oleksandr Usyk|
|Tuchel explains why he likes Neymar at number 10|
|Manchester United smash revenue record but profits down|
|Furyk downplays Ryder Cup pairings talk, says Tuesday is about individuals|
|Rejuvenated Tiger out to improve poor Ryder Cup record|
|Saunders fined £100,000 for ´sickening´ online video|
|Hazard can reach his full potential with Sarri´s Chelsea - Zola|
|Ryder Cup heading back in Europe´s direction, says Niall Horan|
|Wow! Klopp hails Sarri´s Chelsea transformation|
|Giovinazzi to partner Raikkonen at Sauber in 2019|
|Bjorn backs ´phenomenal´ Rahm to continue trend of Spanish success|
|Durant in no rush to decide Warriors future|
|Rossi to face anti-doping hearing|
|Mignolet to return for Liverpool against Chelsea|
|Premier League ´interesting´ for Germany boss Low|
|Wilder wins Twitter vote to be Joshua´s next opponent|
|BREAKING NEWS: Isco an El Derbi doubt due to appendicitis|