The Oklahoma City Thunder has suddenly become characterized by one word.
Comb over any recent national clipping centered on the Thunder and chances are you'll find that description, or some derivative.
No matter the language, though, the message is being delivered. The Thunder is the new "it" team. Oklahoma City might still trail the L.A. Lakers, and now Miami, as the most glamorous outfits. But the Thunder has climbed atop the NBA's shortlist of sweetheart teams, franchises from which the league chooses a face and ensues to flood promotional spots with throughout the marathon season.
Already this summer there have been real ramifications of last year's success story.
Team USA will reconvene today in New York City, where three of the 15 remaining hopefuls for this summer's World Championship are Thunder players. Kevin Durant, the reigning scoring champ, has graced multiple magazine covers as well as the soon-to-be-released NBA Elite 11.
When the league released the matchups on its marquee dates in 2010-11, the Thunder was featured prominently. OKC grabbed a Christmas game at home against Denver, a Martin Luther King Jr. Day game and two dates inside the hyped opening week.
Now comes the truest indicator of just how hot the Thunder is.
The league will release its full schedule Tuesday. And there is no measure of how popular a team is like national television appearances.
The Thunder entered last season scheduled for just one game on ESPN, TNT or ABC. OKC was slated for just two when the 2008-09 schedule was released.
This year could bring a big-time change. Three of the four Thunder games that were announced last week are scheduled for broadcasts across the major networks. And if that trend continues, it will signal the Thunder's arrival as a nationally accepted ballclub.
To understand where the Thunder stands when the schedule is announced Tuesday, compare the number of nationally television dates to last season's sweethearts.
Cleveland led the league with 25 scheduled appearances. The Lakers, Boston and Orlando each had 24. Denver had 21, San Antonio was scheduled for 20 and Phoenix began the season with 18.
Expect the Thunder to join those lucky seven.
But it's how high Oklahoma City ranks that will reveal just how much of a darling it has become.