Inside the night Tyrese Haliburton entered the All-Star fraternity
His dad, John, on the accomplishment and why he's not surprised. "Pay attention. Everything this kid predicted about himself happened so far, so why would I ever doubt him?
The announcement was made at 7:06 p.m. ET on Thursday.
The Pacers’ pre-game intro video was being played on the giant video board at Gainbridge Fieldhouse while a few of us on media row — and NBA fans everywhere — were tuned into the TNT show for the official announcement of the 14 reserves for the 2023 NBA All-Star Game.
And Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton needed the vote of NBA head coaches to earn one of seven reserve spots in the Eastern Conference.
At 7:08 p.m., Haliburton was introduced last, per usual. That spot, at all levels, almost always goes to the team’s best player.
“From Iowa State, welcome back No. 0 TYREEEEEEESE HALLLLIBURTON!” shouted public address announcer Troy Pepper.
Haliburton got up from the bench and proceeded with a big smile on his face as teammates surrounded him and they celebrated together. They celebrated both his All-Star recognition as much as they did the fact that he was rejoining them on the court, back after being sidelined for three weeks due to injuries.
During that stretch, the Pacers lost 10 of their last 11 games and slid back to 11th in the conference standings.
“You never want to go through a tough stretch like we’ve gone through without him, but it was further proof of how good he really is,” head coach Rick Carlisle reiterated.
By design, the NBA kept the All-Star results sealed until just before the television program. Carlisle and team president Kevin Pritchard, however, were able to inform Haliburton shortly before team warmups that he was in. That he was an All-Star.
So he knew, but the rest of the arena found out together by looking overhead at the video board. It cut to the TNT broadcast of Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal announcing that Haliburton was the seventh and final Eastern Conference reserve.
Haliburton then quickly went over to his girlfriend and family, who are courtside for nearly every home game. He gave his mom, Brenda, a big hug and then returned to the bench.
At just 22 years old and in his third season, Haliburton was an All-Star — the 15th different player in franchise history to earn that honor. And he joins Paul George, Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis to earn that designation over the last decade.
Brenda Haliburton doesn’t like to do interviews, so she deferred to Tyrese’s dad, John. And he always loves to talk; you can see where Ty got it.
“I already knew,” John told Fieldhouse Files after the game.
You did, I wondered. How?
“Because he worked hard and he deserved it. Another thing is God got him. And if God is for you, who can be against you? So his blessing was already there. He just had to wait until you heard the words. That’s all, but I already knew.”
He also knew because his son seems to be speaking his goals into existence, including his short-term goal of returning to game action Thursday against the Los Angeles Lakers. He scored 11 of his team-high 26 points in the first quarter and dished out 12 assists in 36 minutes.
“He just lights up our building,” Carlisle said following a 112-111 loss. “Our team plays a different game. I was trying to keep his minutes reasonable. To the win the game, he needed to go back in there with nine minutes to go.”
The Pacers (24-29) entered the final quarter up by 12. They led until the final 2:35 as they managed to score just 15 points the rest of the way while the Lakers had 16 free throw attempts in the quarter to their zero.
“The foul discrepancy and the free-throw discrepancy is something that I’ve never witnessed in 38 years in this league. … They got to the bonus three minutes in. They just put their heads down and the whistle kept blowing. If you’re an NBA team, the best way to set your defense is to shoot a free throw.”
Haliburton being back on the court changes everything for this team. The ball is moving, the offense is flowing and they’re communicating better.
“A 20 & 10 point guard is gold in this league, particularly one that also has the “it” factor when it comes to the crowd identifying with him,” Carlisle added. “I see so much of Reggie (Miller) in him, the way that these guys move on the court, their emotions, what they’re about, how they work, all those things. I’m really thrilled for him.”
It’s difficult to get higher praise than that in this basketball state.
He Called His Shot
It’s easy to spot John Haliburton at games. He’s the one in a bright yellow custom long-sleeve with his son’s name on the back and face on the right sleeve. Brenda lives in town, but John drove down from Wisconsin for the three games this weekend.
“The kid was very restless,” John said. “He needed to get back on the floor because he breathes and lives basketball.”