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Carmelo Anthony has been the No. 1 option for whatever team
he has played on during most of his basketball career.

He knew that wasn’t going to be the case when he arrived in Oklahoma
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 , though it’s safe to say things haven’t gone
as he expected when he signed up to be part the league’s next Big Three.

Playing alongside Russell Westbrook and Paul George, Anthony and the Thunder
are headed to the playoffs . He is the Thunder’s third-leading scorer, yet at
times it feels like he the fourth option behind center Steven Adams.

Anthony isn’t complaining.

”Acceptance of what I have to do here and what is needed of me,” Anthony
said. ”I think the other guys on the team, after they started playing with each
other more and more, we started figuring out each other’s game. We figured out
what each other brings to the game.”

He has said he wants to win, and he is not just talking the talk.

Late in a critical game against the Denver Nuggets a few weeks ago , Anthony
chose not to re-enter in the closing minutes of regulation. Instead, he walked
away from the scorer’s table and let 24-year-old Jerami Grant stay in the

”I didn’t want to break his rhythm,” Anthony said. ”A lot of guys when they
have it going like that, especially role player guys, bench guys, that gives
them confidence. You believe in those guys.”

Anthony returned to action when the game went to overtime and his actions
left little doubt where he is mentally. A likely future Hall of Famer, Anthony
is one of the top 20 scorers in NBA history, a three-time Olympic gold medalist
and former NBA scoring champion in 2013.

Not long ago, the thought of Anthony being out of a game at crunch time would
have been dismissed as senseless. Now, he’s 33 years old, no longer in his
prime. He averages 16.2 points per game, by far the lowest of his career, and
his minutes also are at a career low.

He’s fine with it all because his goal is his first NBA title.

Anthony’s teammates respect how he has adjusted.

”He’s just an overall good guy,” Westbrook said. ”Does a lot of different
things that goes unnoticed. His ultimate sacrifice is number one, and his being
a team guy is always important as well.”

Anthony has been an isolation specialist for most of his career, having the
ball in his hand and his team clearing out so he can go one-on-one. This season,
he has been at his best when taking advantage of the attention Westbrook and
George have drawn.

”Those guys are finding me in transition, they’re finding me in when guys
collapse on the defensive end and we’re just sharing the ball,” he said. ”I
think when we share the ball and we move the ball, everybody feels a part of the
game. The rhythm comes, the flow of the game comes because the rhythm is a lot
different than what we (the Thunder) had in the past, so we’ve got to find ways,
find that rhythm.”

Anthony has had struggled at times finding his rhythm – he’s barely shooting
40 percent from the field. Still Ryan
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 , he has shown glimpses of being the prolific scorer
he once was. In Sunday’s win over the Houston Rockets, he scored 22 points on 7
for 14 shooting. He scored a season-high 29 points in a win over Cleveland on
Jan. 20.

And there are times where his track record still matters.

In a loss to Portland on March 25 , Anthony missed what would have been a
game-tying 3-pointer in the final seconds after Westbrook fouled out. Coach
Billy Donovan was fine with Anthony having the ball in his hands.

”Carmelo is a proven scorer in this league and has made shots, big shots for
a large portion of his career, and I’ve got confidence in him,” Donovan

The coach also believes Anthony is a team player.

Donovan said he was fine with when Anthony chose not to re-enter the game
against Denver ”because to me, that’s a sign of unselfishness – wanting someone
else to do well.”

Grant is averaging 9.4 points per game since the All-Star break in just under
20 minutes of action per game. Anthony is teaching him to be more assertive.

”Since I’ve been here, he’s been with our group – me, him and Paul – the
shooting groups,” Anthony said. ”Just talking to him and encouraging him to take
a little bit more.”

Anthony believes mentoring is as important as anything he does at this point
in his career.

”I’ve been around for a long time,” Anthony said, ”and I want to give that
insight and that knowledge to the young guys.”

And capture his first NBA title along the way.

Frank Reich might not have been the Indianapolis Colts‘ first choice as head

Turns out, he might be the better fit anyway.

Just three days into training camp, the 56-year-old former quarterback has
injected energy, enthusiasm and excitement into a team desperately needing to
change directions after three straight seasons of missing the playoffs.

”I think he brings a really neat perspective,” Andrew Luck said this week.
”He’s certainly had an amazing career as a player and has done an amazing job as
a coach. I’ve really enjoyed talking to him, learning from him, talking with him
and figuring out what the best course of action is in many different

The new tandem is just getting started.

Throughout the first two public workouts in suburban Indianapolis, Luck and
Reich have been conversing regularly as Luck learns his fourth offense in seven
pro seasons.

But Reich does more than just talk.

He’s innovative, passionate and personable, and players seem to respect the
unique journey Reich took to his first head coaching gig.

After graduating from Maryland, he was drafted by the Buffalo Bills and
joined a cast of future Hall of Famers while playing for the only team to appear
in four straight Super Bowls.

His coaching career began when another Hall of Famer, Tony Dungy, hired Reich
as an intern with the Colts in 2006. Peyton Manning earned his first
championship ring that season, though Reich did not receive one.

In 2009, Reich was promoted to quarterbacks coach as Manning captured his
fourth MVP Award, led the Colts to a 14-0 start and another AFC title.

Then after stints in Arizona and San Diego where he worked directly with
Larry Fitzgerald and Philip Rivers, Reich was named the Philadelphia Eagles‘
offensive coordinator in 2016 and finally picked up the elusive ring when Nick
Foles beat New England in February.

Not enough?

Even before he replaced injured Bills quarterback Jim Kelly in the 1992
playoffs and overcame a 32-point deficit to complete the largest comeback in NFL
history, Reich threw three second-half TD passes in relief of Stan Gelbaugh and
led the Terrapins back from a 31-poinnt deficit to beat highly-ranked Miami in
1984. At the time, it was the largest comeback in major college football history
and still ranks No. 3.

”The backup role has suited me well in my career Sven
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conference in February.

The Colts are counting on him to do it again, this time in the family

His father was a football coach, his mother coached sports and his brother,
Joe, is entering his 18th season as head coach at Division II Wingate University
in North Carolina.

And Reich may need all of his expertise to turn things around in Indy.

He inherits a young roster that has more questions than answers, a team the
outside world believes will be among the worst in the league and one that was
spurned by its top coaching choice, New England offensive coordinator Josh
McDaniels, shortly after the Patriots season-ending loss.

So instead of McDaniels, general manager Chris Ballard brought in a reigning
champion who understood the organization, who helped Eagles quarterback Carson
Wentz put himself in the MVP conversation in just his second NFL season and who
refused to take a single interview until Philadelphia’s season was over.

He didn’t care what the critics said then about the Colts, and he doesn’t
care now.

”I see and hear the chatter, but we don’t focus too much on that,” he said,
referring to one projection of a two-win season. ”That is, I guess, a little
bulletin board material, but for the most part, it’s about believing in one
another. I’ve seen what we’ve done. I’ve seen the kind of players we have. I
just have a lot of confidence in who we have here.”

The players like what they have in this coach, too.

Reich, for instance, remembers what it’s like to play the game and can
provide perspective and stories about his own NFL experiences including a
surgical procedure he had on his shoulder following his retirement in 1998 that
was similar to what Luck endured in January 2017.

”He certainly is a sounding board for all of us quarterbacks,” Luck said. ”I
think he’s also a great teacher. The best coaches have always been the best
teachers. He does a fantastic job of that.”

Reich’s frank, succinct assessments have been a big hit, too.

He’s made no secret of his personal expectations: The Colts must work hard,
be prepared, play with discipline and finish games. He also encourages players
to be themselves, a combination that led free agent tight end Eric Ebron to
Indianapolis and could bring more help to Indy in the future.

”Frank is just Frank, he always just keeps it real,” Ebron said. ”That’s what
I like about him.”

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