Pacers Notebook: Tyrese Haliburton voted All-Star starter, added to Team USA player pool
Plus, All-Star uniforms unveiled, Reggie Miller sits down with Larry Bird and Isiah Thomas, two new coaches in the East and Mad Ants also on a homestand.
Tyrese Haliburton is an NBA All-Star for the second year in a row. Better yet, he’s a starter — receiving the most votes among all Eastern Conference guards.
Last season, he was voted on the team for the first time by head coaches across the league. This time, however, he got in due to millions of votes from fans (which accounts for 50% of the vote), along with players (25%) and a panel of media (25%).
In the East backcourt, Haliburton received the most votes from the fans, players and media. Three for three. Milwaukee’s Damian Lillard received the second-most votes in the backcourt and will start alongside Haliburton.
The NBA announced the starters for next month’s game on Thursday as team introductions were underway for Pacers vs. 76ers.
Haliburton’s fan vote:
First returns: 1,380,795
East Starters: Haliburton, Lillard, Jayson Tatum (Boston), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee) and Joel Embiid (Philadelphia).
West Starters: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Oklahoma City), Luka Doncic (Dallas), Kevin Durant (Phoenix), LeBron James (LA Lakers) and Nikola Jokic (Denver).
Antetokounmpo and James are the team captains.
“Being named a starter is a big deal,” Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said before the game. “It just puts you in another category. It’s an enormous honor.”
Haliburton will become the fourth Pacer to start, joining Reggie Miller, Jermaine O’Neal (3x), and Paul George (2x). And he’s the first since PG in 2016.
“This means the world to me,” Haliburton said. “Shout out to all the fans, my peers, and the media for the love that I’ve received, and I’m excited to represent the organization, especially with the event here in Indiana this year. I can’t wait to share this weekend with everyone who played a part in helping me achieve this honor.”
He’s just 23 and in his fourth season since being drafted 12th overall by the Sacramento Kings in 2020. He's averaging 23.6 points on 50% shooting while leading the league in assists with 12.6 per game.
However, he’s currently sidelined due to a Grade 1 left hamstring strain.
The 14 reserves will be announced next Thursday at 7 p.m. ET. Two guards, three frontcourt players and two wildcards for each conference are voted on by head coaches.
The 73rd annual All-Star game will be played at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Sunday, Feb. 18 and air on TNT.
When the game was last in Indy, in 1985, it was held at the RCA Dome. Ralph Sampson was named MVP.
2024 All-Star Uniforms Unveiled
Earlier Thursday, photos of the game uniforms for Indy’s All-Star game were unveiled and feature a red and blue color scheme — much like the ABA.
The East will wear blue and the West will be in red.
The pinstripes are a nod to the Pacers’ uniforms in the ‘90s, the star on the shorts is a tribute to Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis, and the warmup jacket looks like it’s straight out of "Hoosiers.”
It all goes on sale tonight.
Tyrese Named to Team USA Player Pool
Already this week, Haliburton is right where he wants to be — in consideration for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
He was named to 41-member pool of players who will be considered for the 12-man USA Basketball roster. So it’s stiff competition.
After playing on the World Cup team last summer, Haliburton already made clear that he would play on the Olympic team if asked. Steve Kerr is the head coach of the team, taking over for Gregg Popovich.
This is all a long ways away, but this is a positive news for Haliburton.
The other finalists: Bam Adebayo, Jarrett Allen, Paolo Banchero, Desmond Bane, Scottie Barnes, Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, Jaylen Brown, Jalen Brunson, Jimmy Butler, Alex Caruso, Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Anthony Edwards, Joel Embiid, De’Aaron Fox, Paul George, Aaron Gordon, James Harden, Josh Hart, Tyler Herro, Jrue Holiday, Chet Holmgren, Brandon Ingram, Kyrie Irving, Jaren Jackson Jr., LeBron James, Cam Johnson, Walker Kessler, Kawhi Leonard, Damian Lillard, Donovan Mitchell, Chris Paul, Bobby Portis, Austin Reaves, Duncan Robinson, Jayson Tatum, Derrick White and Trae Young.
Reggie + Larry + Isiah
It takes a lot to get Larry Bird to talk basketball any more.
He didn’t even attend NBA All-Star Weekend 2022 in Cleveland as the league celebrated its top 75 players. (That remains the most-read story on this site.)
Nowadays, Bird spends most of his time at his home in Florida. However, a conversation with Pacers legend Reggie Miller was worth his time.
Miller shared photos on Wednesday from a sit-down interview he had with Larry Legend and Isiah Thomas — both of whom played college basketball in Indiana and coached the Indiana Pacers.
This is for a special feature that will be part of TNT’s coverage of NBA All-Star Weekend next month in Indianapolis. And based on the set design, with hats of Bird’s Indiana State University and Thomas’ Indiana University, discussions will have a local flavor.
Just imagine the stories these three men could tell… What do you hope they discuss?
Miller is the lead analyst on TNT, which also broadcasts the All-Star game. Indy’s big weekend runs from Feb. 16-18 with All-Star Saturday night taking place at Lucas Oil Stadium and the game, on Feb. 18, held at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
As for Bird, he rejoined the Pacers last season as an advisor. And he attended the team’s first pre-draft workout last May.
Two New Coaches in the East
In a matter of days, two Eastern Conference teams had made changes at the top just over halfway into the season.
The Bucks moved on from Adrian Griffin after 43 games (and a 30-13 record). Of note, 31% of their losses this season (four) were to the Pacers. And now a coaching change for the second time nine months.
The Bucks are paying three head coaches: Mike Budenholzer, Griffin and Doc Rivers — who is back again.
Then on Thursday, the Wizards officially moved head coach Wes Unseld Jr. to the front office and named Brian Keefe the interim head coach.
The Wizards are 7-36 — the second-worst record ahead of only the Pistons.
Mad Ants Are Home Too
The Pacers aren’t the only ones enjoying a homestand this week at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. The Indiana Mad Ants are in the midst of a five-game home-friendly stretch. They’re 7-4, atop the conference standings, and in action again Saturday night in a featured game against the Westchester Knicks.
It’s Marvel night and there will be special activities for kids. Tickets are $10.
The intrigue here is that it’s the first meeting between these two teams since the Knicks won the G League Showcase Cup title game in December before Christmas.
On Wednesday night, they beat Capital City in an overtime game that used the Elam Ending.