Tyrese Haliburton was a problem — an actual problem — against the New York Knicks on Saturday night, scoring 22 points and handing out a franchise-record 23 assists in a 140-126 victory. The Indiana Pacers guard is playing as well as anyone in the league right now and has ascended into some pretty select company. He’s a surefire All-Star and if he isn’t careful he may end up a first-team All-NBAer. In short, Haliburton’s game has progressed a great deal in the year since MSG Knicks analyst Wally Szczerbiak called him “a wannabe, fake All-Star.”
Hailburton obviously did not appreciate ol’ Wally’s commentary at the time, claiming the very handsome man just wanted more attention. And he hasn’t forgotten them because all he did last night between dominating was to stare Szczerbiak in a way that, honestly, was a bit hot.
Haliburton was asked about this after the game and pretended not to know who the person he repeatedly stated down was. For his part, Szczerbiak seems to regret the hot take.
Szczerbiak said he also reiterated that mea culpa while speaking with Halliburton’s father after the game.
“It went really well,” Szczerbiak said during the MSG post-game show. “I told him ‘My apologies, that was not my finest hour’ when I called his son a ‘wannabe fake All-Star.’
“He’s an absolute superstar. He showed it today, it was on display. John Haliburton was a great guy. He said ‘Don’t worry about it. We’ve all had moments like that, and we forgive you, my man.’”
Pressed on his interaction with Szczerbiak after the game, Tyrese Haliburton called it an “extracurricular activity,” but admitted it contributed to his motivation.
So this, like most other stuff, has some kayfabe elements to it. But manufactured anger can help a player ball out just as much as the legit stuff, so expect to see more of it. Great news for fans of the beautiful game and intense eye contact.