Despite being located in the league's third-smallest market, the Thunder received a significant amount of exposure this season.
Kevin Durant leads all NBA players in career commercial appearances with 63 at last count, according to standings calculated by HoopsHype. Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers is second with 42 and Miami's LeBron James is third with 39.
In team rankings, OKC ranks third with 88 total commercials, trailing the Los Angeles Lakers with 125 and the Miami Heat with 91.
Russell Westbrook is second among Thunder players with 11 commercials, followed by Serge Ibaka (six), Nick Collison, Kendrick Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha (two each), Kevin Martin and Reggie Jackson (one each).
The Thunder also got plenty of television exposure this season, making its most ever national appearances.
During the regular season, OKC went 16-8 in games televised on TNT (7-3), ESPN (7-2) and ABC (2-3) and went 5-6 in postseason games on TNT (2-5), ESPN (2-1) and ABC (1-0).
EASY TO SCOUT
Teams study game film of opponents whenever they face each other during the 82-game regular season.
Nationally televised games offer additional scouting, as does subscribing to the NBA TV package. The evaluation process becomes even more detailed during the playoffs with games against the same opponent night after night.
With all this exposure, Memphis forward Tayshaun Prince was well-acquainted with Durant's game even though Prince had played his entire career with the Detroit Pistons of the Eastern Conference before being traded to the Grizzlies in February.
“He (Durant) is an outstanding, amazing player,” said Memphis center Marc Gasol, who was named this season's NBA Defensive Player of the Year. “And I say that with all honesty, but he has some tendencies. You see some things that you can take away. We threw three different guys at him, made him work for everything.
“You get to see a lot of KD on TV. You get to see what he does and how good he does it.”
Ibaka was born in the Republic of Congo and still struggles to understand nuances of the English language, but he fully understands how to blame the media.
When Ibaka was asked about how he struggled the first three games against Memphis, shooting 12 for 39 (.308) from the field and missing three dunks, he quickly became defensive about his, um, defense.
“That's the problem,” said Ibaka, who has led the league in total blocks for three straight seasons and was an All-Defensive first-team selection this season by NBA coaches. “People only say ‘bad game' because I didn't score. People say ‘bad game,' but you forget I was playing great defense against Zach (Randolph). He had 15 points and in the second game, all game, he had eight points. The fact people only see about points, then people say ‘bad game.' But if you ask my coaches, my teammates, it was not a bad game.
“That's the image you guys give out to young players who want to come play in the league. They just think about scoring, think about the points. I think sometimes it's you guys' fault. I'm sorry to say that but I think sometimes it's you guys' fault, yes, because now you say I had a ‘bad game.' But if you see the job I was doing on Zach, you didn't talk about it, right? You just focus on scoring. I had a bad percentage shooting the ball, and you guys take this (playing good defense) out.”
Ibaka makes a good point, so to speak.
CAPPING IT OFF
Two caps Durant recently wore were conversation pieces.
At the team's shootaround session prior to Game 4 at FedExForum in Memphis, he wore the cap of the Seattle SuperSonics, for whom he played his rookie season prior to the franchise relocating to OKC in 2008.
During Thursday's exit interview with media, roughly 12 hours after bring eliminated by the Memphis Grizzlies, Durant wore the cap of the ABA Memphis Sounds.
The Sounds were in existence only one season (1974-75) and finished with a 27-57 record. Prior to that, they were known as the Memphis Tams (1972-74), Memphis Pros (1970-72) and the New Orleans Buccaneers (1967-70).
TAKE YOUR TIME
An exact time frame for Westbrook's return from April 27 surgery that repaired a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee remains uncertain.
Westbrook said he has talked with close friend and Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose, who missed the entire 2012-13 season after having knee surgery.
“Yeah, I talked to him maybe two weeks ago, after I got hurt, a couple days after everything died down,” Westbrook said.
Did Rose share an insight?
“No, just take my time,” Westbrook said. “Take my time. Just listen to my body, take my time and make sure I get back 100 percent.”
Westbrook hadn't missed an NBA game in his career (439 including the postseason) before this injury.
Does he actually listen to his body?
“I do sometimes,” Westbrook said with a smile. “I can't help but listen to it now. Before, I didn't, but I listen to it now.”
Gasol on Durant and the Thunder: “Great player. Amazing player. Amazing team. I loved the way they battled. I loved the way they stayed with it. They fought. They never gave up and all of that. And that's something I really like about them.”