When he easily could have picked from any number of anticipated accomplishments, individual or team-related, Kevin Durant took a more philosophical approach in defining success for the Thunder this season.
"If we continue to go out and have great practices," Durant said.
Cue the infamous Allen Iverson sound bite.
But in Oklahoma City, the belief of building good practices has become a theme that has set the tone for this season, starting with Tuesday's opening day of training camp. The idea started with general manager Sam Presti, trickled down to coach Scott Brooks and made its way to the team's star before permeating the Thunder roster.
One by one, these practices are supposed to slide the Thunder closer to champion status.
"Of course you're not going to have a great practice every day, but if we have more great practices than we do bad practices I think that's when we can say we're having a good year," Durant said. "Because I think great practices lead up to wins. Great shootarounds lead up to wins. Those are things we can control, and I think if we do that you never know what will happen."
Following a surprising 50-win season and riveting playoff series against the Lakers, the Thunder has entered the 2010-11 season with great expectations. That alone should be reason enough for this year's group to implement good practice habits. But OKC also is trying to incorporate four new faces to this year's cast, while building on the chemistry that the returning nine-man rotation enjoyed a year ago.
"We have to get on the same page," said fourth-year forward and last year's co-captain Jeff Green. "In order for us to be successful, we have to be that way. We have to come in the gym and work hard Day One in all the little drills we have.... We have to be on each other. We have to hold each other accountable for everything. I think (Tuesday) was a good start to that."
Brooks, who carved out an improbable 10-year NBA playing career by practicing for hours on end, now calls himself a "practice coach." The coach praised his players for being extremely competitive in practice.
"When you have that, that creates an environment of improvement," Brooks said.
"You only can be successful through your work. And if you give good effort, you put yourself (in position) to be successful. If you don't, it's luck. And you don't play professional sports to hope for luck."
Brooks said he "needs to see good practices."
"I feel much better," Brooks explained.
On Tuesday, the coach admittedly was feeling pretty good after the first session of the first scheduled two-a-day. But he quickly noted that the league's 29 other coaches likely felt the same way.
"What you do in practice two is what counts now, and so forth as you go along with training camp," Brooks said. "We've got a month to get better and we have to take advantage of every day."