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."
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