Two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry has praised LeBron James for his longevity and pushing him to sustain his prime for as long as he can.
Curry and James are set to face off on the opening night of the 2021-22 NBA season when the Golden State Warriors meet the Los Angeles Lakers on October 19.
Four-time NBA MVP and four-time NBA champion James enters his 18th NBA season with the Lakers among the favourites for the title.
Despite being 36-years-old, James remains a key part for the Lakers, who won the NBA in 2020, before bowing out in the first round of the 2021 play-offs.
Curry praised 17-time All-Star James for maintaining his high levels throughout an extended period, when the pair have arguably been the league's best players.
"He set the standard for that," Curry told reporters on Friday. "Let's keep it real – in his 18th year, nine straight Finals, all the things that he's accomplished.
"You have a vision of sustaining your prime for as long as you can, kind of re-imagining what that looks like. The work that goes into it, the intentionality, especially in the off-seasons, especially how you take care of your body, your mind. Balance on court, off court."
The Lakers forward had an injury-interrupted 2020-21 season, averaging 25.0 points,7.7 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game, having boasted a career-best 10.2 assists per game in the side's title-winning 2019-20 season. He has averaged 25.0 points per game or more since his debut season in 2003-04 with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
James is four years Curry's senior, with the 2003 NBA Draft first pick having claimed one more NBA title across his career than the Warriors point guard who debuted in 2009.
"For me, it's a weird perspective just because I still remember my college days and he was just coming into his prime in the league," Curry said.
"And my sophomore year, [NCAA] tournament run he came to a game, then came to a game my junior year. I still have a jersey that he signed back in '08 in my parents' house back in Charlotte. So it's kind of weird to think about what's happened in the last 13, 14 years.
"Hopefully there's more chapters of that, playing at that prime. Re-imagining and extending your prime and playing at a high level for a long time looks like."
Curry, who only played five games in the 2019-20 season due to injury, topped the NBA last season for points per game, at 32.0.
The 33-year-old's 32.0 points per game was a career-best return, while he also averaged 5.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game.
"I love exactly where I'm at," Curry said ahead of the new season. "I'm planning to be ready for opening night.
"Body feels good, mind feels good, shot feels strong. I'm not pacing myself but I'm being smart about how I approach preseason games."