Even though the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers were battling for an NBA title for the third-straight year, there's still a lot of respect between the two squads.
Trash talking aside, at the end of the day, greatness respects greatness and that's clearly the situation between the NBA's two best teams.
Nothing better illustrates that point than a moment that happened during Game 5 on Monday night, when Golden State guard Klay Thompson was upended by Cleveland forward Tristan Thompson while trying to defend a layup attempt.
As you can see in the video below, Thompson's teammate, Draymond Green, makes an amazing play simply by catching Thompson before he hits the ground face first. But, as he struggles to hang on to his teammate, Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving shows great sportsmanship by rushing in to assist Thompson and help him to his feet:
Again, it's incredible that Green had the presence of mind to abandon his defensive responsibilities and save Thompson from what could have been a disastrous fall, but it was also great to see Irving rush to the assistance of his opponent.
Irving may have saved Klay Thompson from a potentially ugly injury, but he suffered a minor injury of his own that hampered his performance down the stretch. Irving told ESPN.com after the loss that he was dealing with leg and back issues during the second half:
"After I hit my dang knee on the floor, after that my lower back started to tighten up," Irving said. "And as the fourth quarter started to happen, a lot of shots and layups that I normally make, they just weren't falling. So that kind of took the wind out of my sails."
Irving finished the game with 26 points and six assists, but he missed all six shots he took from the floor in the fourth quarter. Though LeBron James picked up the slack, the fourth is where Irving usually puts his stamp on a game.
Though this year's loss hurts, Irving said he expects to see the Warriors again soon, maybe even as soon as next year's NBA Finals for a fourth-straight title battle:
"So they have an incredible team," Irving said. "They beat us, but I'm pretty sure we'll be back and we'll be ready to battle again."
With LeBron James still in his prime, the Cavs will likely be the favorites to represent the Eastern Conference yet again. And, if the Warriors can hold on to Kevin Durant, a fourth-straight Finals battle may be inevitable in 2018.