Bradley’s Buzz: The World Cup is ours. (Well, some of it)

061622 Atlanta: The Mercedes-Benz Stadium 360-degree HD video screen helps announce Atlanta has been selected as a host city for the 2026 World Cup at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Thursday, June 16, 2022, in Atlanta.     “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

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061622 Atlanta: The Mercedes-Benz Stadium 360-degree HD video screen helps announce Atlanta has been selected as a host city for the 2026 World Cup at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Thursday, June 16, 2022, in Atlanta. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

There was never a doubt that Atlanta would be among the many host cities for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. We’ve got the airport. We’ve got the stadium. The stadium has a roof. One of the stadium’s occupants is a soccer team that became the new model for North American soccer teams.

We’ve had an Olympiad. We’ve had Super Bowls, the most recent of which was a shining success. We’ve had Final Fours, the most recent of which wasn’t played, but for once something wasn’t our fault. We’ve had the College Football Playoff semis and final. We did lose an All-Star Game, but you can’t win ‘em all.

The 2026 World Cup will be bigger – more teams, more games – than ever. FIFA has tried this cross-national hosting before: Japan and South Korea shared the 2002 installment. Never have three nations and so many far-flung cities been involved. This World Cup will stretch from Monterrey to Vancouver, from Guadalajara to Toronto, from L.A. to Miami with Kansas City in between.

It’s believed the final will be staged in New York/New Jersey or Dallas. It’s also believed Mercedes-Benz Stadium will get no less than a semifinal. My guess is that France and Brazil will be the participants. France will prevail 3-2 after extra time. Kylian Mbappe – who’ll still be on the low side of 30 – will score the winner. France will face Italy in the final. Yes, that’s the longest-range prediction in Bradley annals.

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About the Braves

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Ronald Acuña celebrates with teammates after Tuesday's victory over the Washington Nationals, the 13th straight win for the Braves. The team's win streak is now 14 as it prepares for Friday's game in Chicago against the Cubs. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

Credit: AP

Ronald Acuña celebrates with teammates after Tuesday's victory over the Washington Nationals, the 13th straight win for the Braves. The team's win streak is now 14 as it prepares for Friday's game in Chicago against the Cubs. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

Credit: AP

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Ronald Acuña celebrates with teammates after Tuesday's victory over the Washington Nationals, the 13th straight win for the Braves. The team's win streak is now 14 as it prepares for Friday's game in Chicago against the Cubs. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

They’ve slashed six games off what was, as of June 2, a 10 1/2-game deficit. The Mets haven’t fallen apart, though. They’re 7-6 in June having lost only one series, which was nice work – credit where it’s due – against the Dodgers, Padres, Angels and Brewers. When the team that’s chasing you goes 14-0, there’s not much you can do.

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About the NBA finals

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Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, right, forward Draymond Green, left, and Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson celebrate after defeating the Boston Celtics in Game 6 to win basketball's NBA Finals championship, Thursday, June 16, 2022, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Credit: Michael Dwyer

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, right, forward Draymond Green, left, and Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson celebrate after defeating the Boston Celtics in Game 6 to win basketball's NBA Finals championship, Thursday, June 16, 2022, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Credit: Michael Dwyer

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Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, right, forward Draymond Green, left, and Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson celebrate after defeating the Boston Celtics in Game 6 to win basketball's NBA Finals championship, Thursday, June 16, 2022, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Credit: Michael Dwyer

Credit: Michael Dwyer

You’d think a six-game series between teams of similar worth might produce a riveting game or two. The Warriors beat the Celtics 4-2; no game was decided by single digits. Which isn’t to say every game was a snore.

Stephen Curry, the defining player of the era, turned the series by scoring 43 points in Game 4. He scored 34 in Thursday’s closeout. He was named MVP of the finals, which hadn’t happened in Golden State’s past three title runs. The MVP in 2015 was Andre Iguodala, a sub. The MVP in 2017 and 2018 was Kevin Durant, who never seemed to belong. Finally it fell to Curry, always the biggest name among Warriors.

Durant’s three seasons with Golden State were successful without being joyous. A team coming off a 73-9 season signed the NBA’s best pure scorer. He did what he was supposed to do – render the Warriors unbeatable – without ever seeming a real fit. In the third season after his exit, the real Warriors reclaimed their throne.

As much the Golden State dynasty has been about Curry, it was never all about Curry. He needed Klay Thompson, the ideal complement, and especially Draymond Green, the perfectly imperfect teammate. Had Green not gotten suspended for Game 5 of the 2016 finals, those Warriors wouldn’t have lost to Cleveland/LeBron/Kyrie and wouldn’t have felt the need to hire Durant. For all his excesses, Green remains the rock of one of the greatest teams ever because he does everything the others don’t do.

That was, and has always been, the Golden State story. The club drafted Curry in 2009, Thompson in 2011. They found their cornerstone in the second round of the 2012 draft. There hadn’t been an NBA player quite like Green. There may never be another.

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About the we-never-close transfer portal

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NCAA football coaches association wants to limit access to the transfer portal to two two-week periods. (AJC file photo)

Credit: Jason Getz

NCAA football coaches association wants to limit access to the transfer portal to two two-week periods. (AJC file photo)

Credit: Jason Getz

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NCAA football coaches association wants to limit access to the transfer portal to two two-week periods. (AJC file photo)

Credit: Jason Getz

Credit: Jason Getz

The NCAA proposes to affix windows to its revolving door. Heather Dinich of ESPN reports that its football coaches’ association wants to limit access to the transfer portal to two two-week periods. One would be from the end of November to the middle of December; the other would run from April 15 to May 1.

As ever, the NCAA is a day late and, thanks to NIL money, millions of dollars short. A transfer wouldn’t have to be completed over those two fortnights. A player would just have to enter the portal during them. Since pretty much everybody submits his/her name already, this would offer only cosmetic relief.