The NBA's leading scorer walks slowly into the Oklahoma City Thunder locker room, his eyes fixed on an open black leather Bible with his name engraved on the cover.
A pack of reporters awaits him, but he remains embedded in Paul's Letter to the Ephesians, a book in the New Testament. He reads carefully in front of his locker for several minutes, marking favored passages with a light blue highlight pen.
Shortly after reading the command, "Find your strength in the Lord, in his mighty power," Kevin Durant closes his Bible and lifts his eyes to the reporters.
A different kind of NBA superstar is ready to talk.
"It helps me," Durant says of his daily Bible study. "Lifts me up. Encourages me."
He speaks in a near whisper. He talks about how much he admires his mother, Wanda. He makes sure to say how lucky he is to earn $17 million to play basketball.
He appears allergic to bragging. He downplays his team's might, taking special care to underestimate himself.
But, please, don't make the mistake of following his example. As the Denver Nuggets prepare to battle the Thunder in a best-of-seven first-round playoff series, they should brace for bombardment from Durant.
He's ready to introduce himself as a transcendent, season-altering player, but requires playoff victories to cement his stature. Durant has played in only six playoff games in his four-season career.
He remains a relative secret. He's a peaceful jump shooter in a league dominated by howling dunkers. He goes out of his way to blend in with his teammates. He's remarkably tranquil.
Thunder center Kendrick Perkins laughs as he considers Durant's low profile.
"Because he's so quiet and humble, people underestimate him," Perkins says. "People out there don't know how good he really is."
Perkins' smile widens.
"And I like that. I don't want everyone to know how good he is. That way, he can surprise them."
Durant will fail to surprise the Nuggets, who understand the danger he presents on the court. Durant averaged 31.5 points this season against Denver while leading the Thunder to three wins in four games.
This is typical behavior for Durant. He's one of the NBA's top five players, and will continue rising. He's only 22 years old, stands 6-foot-9 (at least), passes with imagination and drops shots from the court's outer limits.
And, maybe best of all, he labors without ceasing. Durant's peaceful exterior hides a raging fire within. He hungers, always, for more.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks played alongside Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing during his 11-season NBA career.
"He's as good as any of the players I've been around," Brooks says. "... He's a winner. All he cares about is winning games. He's one of our hardest workers. He doesn't take days off. He understands his job is to get better every day, and he does it."
Durant offers a quick explanation for his work ethic. He couldn't help but become a diligent laborer after watching his mother.
Wanda, a single mother for most of Durant's childhood, did not walk the timid route. She pushed Kevin and his older brother, Tony, toward faith and excellence. When Wanda sees Kevin, she still tells him to get to work.
"My mom, you know, she pushed me every day," Durant says, his eyes brightening as he thinks of Wanda. "I saw her working, saw her getting up at 4 in the morning making sure that my brother and I were ready for school, working all day and then coming home cooking us dinner. She made sure we were straight at night.
"And she did that every day. I learned from her. I learned a lot from her."
Wanda had no patience for griping. She ran a contented household where thankfulness was virtually required.
So it's no surprise that Durant has grown into an NBA rarity. In a basketball world filled with whiners, he's a contented superstar.
Durant has settled into the small market of Oklahoma City. Surrounded by flatlands and cow pasture, he's found basketball happiness.
This summer, LeBron James fled Cleveland for the beaches and never-ending-parties of Miami. Meanwhile, Durant signed a contract that will keep him in the middle-of-nowhere -- by NBA standards, at least -- until 2016.
"I'm just blessed to be in this position, and I don't take it for granted," Durant says. "There's a lot of people who want to be in the NBA, and I can't take that for granted. I have a real good situation."
As he finishes the sentence, Durant nods to his small crowd, says thanks for listening and begins a series of ultralong steps to the door.
A different kind of NBA superstar is on his way to pregame chapel.