Kevin Durant said playing for the United States in the Olympics was like "therapy" after signing with the Golden State Warriors last month.
In a normal year, Durant would have nothing but months to be questioned about his decision with no basketball until camps open in late September.
But being a part of Team USA's successful quest for a third consecutive gold medal allowed him to stay on the court and avoid being continually asked about his controversial decision to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder.
"It made my life easier ... I knew [a backlash] was coming," he told The Vertical.
"It was definitely different for me, but to come here in an environment where people accepted me and didn't care about anything except being my buddy, that's what I needed."
Durant led the USA in scoring for the duration of the Games, including a 30-point performance in the gold medal game against Serbia on Sunday.
His 155 points (19.3 per game) were the second-highest total of all-time for USA Basketball, just one point behind his 2012 performance.
Durant now stands 25 points behind four-time Olympian Carmelo Anthony, who set USA Basketball's all-time scoring in Rio, and he would welcome the chance to surpass his team-mate at Tokyo 2020 and claim a third gold medal.
"I want to pass him, for sure. Just because it's 'Melo, I would love to pass him. But I don't know if I'll play or not," Durant said. "Who knows? We'll see. You never know what's going to happen in four years. I'm just going to enjoy this one right now."