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Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) drives past Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton (22) during the first half of Game 6 in the NBA basketball playoffs Eastern Conference finals Saturday, July 3, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

We're going to move quickly again today, because we are traveling back. Hope everyone had a safe and fun Fourth. Happy birthday 'Merica.

Weekend winners

The Braves. Not sure there is a way to put a value on the dramatic rally that ended with a Max Fried walk-off single — yes the pitcher as a pinch-hitter delivering — but if the Braves make a run like we believe the talent would dictate, Sunday will be viewed as a springboard.

Shohei Ohtani. Yeah, he's a regular here, but now we all get a full dose of the two-way Japanese superstar since he's an All-Star as a pitcher and a hitter and in the home run derby. Yes, please.

Cam Davis. The Aussie golfer survived a five-hole playoff for his first PGA Tour win. Kudos kid, and don't spend that $1.35 million all in one place.

THE Ohio State. Dude, Ryan Day is doing work on the recruiting trail as THE OSU has verbal commitments from five of the top-10-ranked players in the country.

 

Weekend losers

LeBron James, soccer mom? Appears so, as James halts an AAU game, confronts the play-by-play announcer because he did not like the reference used. LeBron, everyone sees you whining for calls in every game you've ever played, but what kind of example is this for your kid? Sadness.

Trevor Bauer. We mentioned the assault allegations against the reigning NL CY Young winner, but the details that have been released are horrific. Bauer has been put on administrative leave until the allegations are sorted out.

Bryson DeChambeau. Dude's game is completely broken, and he missed the cut at an event he dominated 12 months ago. He also fired his caddie and you have to wonder about his mental state considering a) Brooke Koepka is living in his cap-covered noggin' and b) there's a real chance he gets humiliated by Mickelson in the next version of The Match on Tuesday.

The NBA. Suns-Bucks without Giannis, yippee.

The New York Times stupidity and desire for clicks and controversy rather than truth and responsibility. This hyperbole-filled July 4th-weekend hit piece calling the American flag divisive is shameful. The author — Sarah Maslin Nir — went from race-baiting, country-criticizing to victim in a matter of minutes on social media. The assertion that a majority of Americans view the flag as a symbol of division is worthless and hollow and gives the article a basis on a fallacy so big it devalues everything that comes after it.

 

Hawks' memorable run

Will we remember this Hawks charge to the Eastern Conference Finals as the pinnacle or the process to a title taking shape?

I see answers for both.

Trae Young is electrifying when he has it rolling against guards of similar size.

Trae Young in tight games will always be slight and more times than not against good competition, a defensive liability.  

The roster is in a state of flux. Meaningful pieces John Collins and Kevin Huerta will expect to be paid. Lemon-pepper Lou Williams is not a spring chicken (wing).

Are DeAndre Hunter and Cam Reddish going to find ways to a) stay healthy and b) become meaningful starters

Make no mistake these questions are rooted in a better-than-we-can-remember place for a Hawks team that has not sniffed a Finals berth since the Braves were in Milwaukee, the Hawks were in St. Louis and the Falcons were a distant gleam in a hopeful Southerner's eye.

But they exist and they must be examined through a prism of whether this nucleus is destined to be the highlight-filled version of the 1980s Hawks, that played an enjoyable brand but never threatened to win it all.

Because with all the questions internally — and I think we all agree with Mader's assertions that a) Nate McMillan is the dude to lead this bunch and b) the front office has earned the benefit of the doubt about aligning the pieces — those are not the most pressing in my mind about the Hawks' title chances over the next few years.

First, if fully healthy, are the Hawks any better than right there with the Celtics for fourth in the East, and that's ahead of a talent-nucleus in NYC.

Brooklyn healthy is the class of the East, Philly, which the Hawks beat in this fun and fan-friendly run, is better at the top. Milwaukee beat the Hawks without Giannis. Boston has Brown and Tatum, giving them two of the best three players on the floor with just about any team in the league not named the Nets or the Lakers.

So where do the Hawks fall in that pecking order, and how can they continue to climb?  

 

This and that

> Speaking of that NYT story, and you know how I feel about surveys and polls, the number that was completely swept under the rug is that only 1 in 3 Democrats identify with the American flag? Say what? A third. I also believe the NYT is far more divisive in this country than the flag will ever be. So there's that.

> And the NYT hubbub comes as NPR called the Declaration of Independence flawed and filled with "hypocrisies." But the NPR exchange on social media was based on the actual language of the Declaration of Independence and we should have conversations about how historical documents and precedents can be improved. But being over-the-top hateful about it or claiming the greatest country on Earth — the one that millions of minorities are willing to risk their lives to sneak into every week — is at its core racists because of a document written 245 years ago is like suing the American medical profession for malpractice for using leaches to battle blood disease and whiskey as everything from an antiseptic to pain reliever.

> You know the rules. Here's Paschall on the forgettable last 11 years of UT football. Wowser, this one is kinda depressing.

> TFP all-around ace Ben Benton doing Ben Benton things with his report on Beck Knob, the first organized Black cemetery being placed on the National Register. Cool.   

> More evidence and stories in my view that support my theory that Gwen Berry is not about a fight for equality as much as Gwen Berry is for the fight to help Gwen Berry.  So there's that.

> Did Joey Chestnut win or lose the weekend? Winning $10K is great; eating 76 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes, not so much.

> Word leaked over the weekend that EA Sports will make an announcement about a video game that it will re-introduce. Hmmmmmm, Name, Image and Likeness gets worked out — which was a big cause for ending EA Sports College Football — and now we're going to have a big announcement on July 20. Hmmmmmmmm. (Side note: You are correct in assuming that if it is NOT EA Sports NCAA Football, I'm going to have kittens.)

 

Today's questions

Wow, I tried to be quicker, but you know how that goes.

Weekend winners and losers. Go.

Feel free to weigh in on some of the questions above: Did Joey Chetsnut win or lose the weekend? Does the majority of America view our flag as a symbol of division? Hawks, first step or pinnacle?

As for today, PT Barnum was born on this day.

Rushmore of 'circus' and be creative.

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