Before the Golden State Warriors hosted the Indiana Pacers on Monday night, Warriors forward Kevin Durant was asked to elaborate on what he anticipates going up against Pacers superstar Paul George — Durant's response was eye-popping.
“He’s my favorite player in the league … I’ve been saying that for awhile. Just so smooth, man. He can do it all: pass, rebound, defend, post up, shoot the ball. He’s my favorite player.
On George having a majority of his biggest career games, including a 45-point explosion last season, vs. teams that Kevin Durant is on:
“It makes the competition even better … I got nothing but respect for Paul. It’s a mutual respect.”
And on what is said between the two behind closed doors:
“It’s been really quiet (trash-talk wise when we play) … You can feel the energy, you can feel we both want to win at a high level. But after the game, it’s all love. That’s the competition you’ve started to see more of over the last 10 years. Guys have become friends off the court in U.S. basketball, dating all the way back to AAU basketball.
“We want the same things on the basketball court … He’s low-maintenance. He’s a superstar, but he’s a low-maintenance guy. Doesn’t need much. Same type of attitude that I bring. Loves the game. Loves to work. So we kind of clicked.”
From AAU to the USA Olympic team to their respective NBA teams, George and Durant have been on the same and opposite ends of some pretty awesome basketball — and are far from writing the final chapter to their subtle, respectful, underrated rivalry.