OAKLAND A little more than an hour before Oklahoma City played Golden State on Tuesday night at Oracle Arena, Kevin Durant reclined on the floor of the Thunder's locker room, headphones around his neck, eyes trained on game film playing on a screen.
A chair stood nearby, empty. So as Durant talked about the contract extension that will keep him in Oklahoma City through the 2015-16 season pre-empting any potential exploration into the brighter lights of a bigger market he might have been discussing his current choice of position, in which the lanky forward appeared quite comfortable.
"(The Thunder franchise) gave me the opportunity to play basketball, and they gave me the freedom to make mistakes and just go out and be me," Durant said. "No matter where I'm at, basketball always comes first, and I think this is a great environment for me to do so.
"The thing with me is that, if I like being somewhere, I don't want to change it. If it's not broke what's the saying they say?"
Don't fix it?
"If it's not broke, don't fix it," Durant said, grinning. "I like being here, man. I like everything about this organization and community."
When Durant announced the signing of that five-year extension worth approximately $86 million in July 2010, he did so in fewer than 140 characters, on Twitter.
The lack of fanfare was considered fitting for Durant, the NBA's top scorer the past two seasons. Soft-spoken and approachable, Durant is regarded and respected as one of the league's modest stars.
His announcement stood in contrast that summer to LeBron James' nationally televised "Decision" to play for Miami, and more recently to instances of star players such as Carmelo Anthony (Denver to New York) and Deron Williams (Utah to New Jersey) bolting for bigger markets.
The Thunder, which plays the Kings tonight at Power Balance Pavilion in front of a rare national TV audience for Sacramento, plays in one of the NBA's smallest markets.
Yet, there Durant stays. Asked what makes Oklahoma City such a good fit for the 23-year-old, three-time All-Star, Thunder coach Scott Brooks said, "The people, and the relationships that he has built and we've built as an organization.
"I don't think Kevin looks at it as small market, big market," Brooks said. "He looks at it as a great market, and he's very comfortable in it. He loves the lifestyle that he has there, and obviously our community has embraced the team and Kevin."
The franchise relocated from Seattle to Oklahoma City after Durant's rookie season in 2007-08, in which he was named Rookie of the Year. Since then, Durant has progressed as a player, and the Thunder has grown with him.
A 23-59 team in its first season in Oklahoma City, the Thunder won 50 games the following season and reached the Western Conference finals last year.
So far this season, it has met the resulting lofty expectations. The Thunder has a conference-best 20-5 record behind its formidable one-two punch of Durant and point guard Russell Westbrook, who recently signed a five-year extension of his own.
That 24 of its games are scheduled for national TV this season also suggests the country is taking note.
Still, in the wake of a highlight-reel dunk by Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin against Oklahoma City's Kendrick Perkins on Jan. 30, Durant was quoted as saying that the Thunder's impressive plays don't get the same kind of attention.
"We're not an L.A. team or a Chicago team or a Miami team," he told reporters. "All our plays get thrown under the radar."
Durant said Tuesday he was "caught up in the moment" after the loss to the Clippers. He shrugged off the idea that he carries a chip on his shoulder playing in a small market, trying to topple the gentry of the NBA.
The Thunder, he said, just strives to win and be "a blue-collar team." But, he said, he sees how that image might appeal to some.
"I think people around the country like how we are," Durant said. "They like that we're a smaller-market team that's kind of competing with the big teams, basketball-wise, know what I mean?
"People like that we have a group of young guys that really don't care about that too much. So it's cool, man, being a part of something like this."