In a city where the concept of NBA free-agent doomsday is alive and well in the form of Carmelo Anthony, LaMarcus Aldridge could have walked up and down Lexington Avenue all day before someone recognized him or guessed his contract status.

Back in Portland, the tale of Aldridge's day-to-day happiness is big news. Here, in a quaint gym on the campus of Baruch College, it was the last thing on his mind -- or anyone else's.

But the reality is, Aldridge now openly discussing his desire to entertain a contract extension with the Trail Blazers should be big news. That's because getting Aldridge to a place where he is surrounded by winning talent, with an organization that is well positioned to sustain its surprising success, was a monumental achievement.

"As a player I feel like I have a good mind-set about this, just making sure that I'm not taken for granted and making sure that we're in a good place," Aldridge told CBSSports.com on Tuesday after the Blazers practiced in Manhattan to prepare for Wednesday night's game against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

The Garden crowd hasn't been treated to much this season except overpriced tickets and an underperforming team. On Wednesday night, it will be treated to one of the true, organic NBA success stories. After two straight years out of the playoffs and so much bad luck with Greg Oden and Brandon Roy, the Blazers are back. They've faded in January after an impossibly hot start, but GM Neil Olshey steadying what had been a sinking ship to the point where Aldridge now wants to stick around is nothing short of remarkable.

"Winning and happiness and making sure my worth is valued," Aldridge said, when asked what he will prioritize when it comes time to decide his future. "It's always nice to be noticed for doing good things."

It was only a few months ago when word was spreading on the NBA grapevine that Aldridge had seen enough in Portland and wanted out. And truly, who could've blamed him? The Blazers' window certainly appeared to have slammed shut, their decline all but assured.

But Olshey has done in Portland for Aldridge what he did for Chris Paul in Los Angeles: He made it a place where a star wants to stay. From the drafting of Damian Lillard to the hiring of Terry Stotts to the revamping of the bench this past summer, the Blazers are on a sustainable path. They've acquired talent and cap flexibility without squandering assets. They have front-office stability, too, after years of unrest.