Tyrese Haliburton Talks All-Star, The Pacers, And Lays Out What He Wants To See At WrestleMania

INDIANAPOLIS — Tyrese Haliburton is everywhere this weekend. It’s not a surprise, as the NBA world has descended upon the city where his rapid ascent to superstardom has occurred. Long viewed as one of the most exciting young talents in the league, Haliburton earned his first All-Star berth last season and has spent the 2023-24 campaign building on that. Now, it’s undisputed that he’s one of the league’s premier guards, something that was confirmed when he was the top vote getter in the Eastern Conference backcourt among all three voting blocs: players, fans, and members of the media.

His individual success has beget team success for the Pacers, which are looking to earn a postseason berth for the first time since the 2019-20 campaign. At the break, the team is 31-25, good for sixth place in the East, and made a run to the final of the inaugural In-Season Tournament, where Haliburton emphatically announced on a national stage that he is as good at being a floor general as anyone else in the Association. All of this is coming to a head on Saturday and Sunday, where he’ll compete in the Three-Point Contest and the All-Star Game in his city.

Prior to that, Dime caught up with Haliburton via his partnership with Starry to discuss being an All-Star in Naptown, this season for the Pacers, the intricacies of keeping everyone happy as a point guard, the main event of WrestleMania XL, and much more.

What do you got going on with Starry this weekend?

Here at NBA Crossover, really excited about it. Get to spend some time with fans, they get to shoot for cash prizes all weekend. So, really cool that I get to be here and be seen. Obviously, I’m also doing the Starry Three-Point Contest. So, that’s exciting as well.

Have you been doing any sort of like preparing for the contest? Are you getting out there and showing fans a thing or two?

Yeah, I’m gonna try to get out there and shoot a little bit. They have time slots for practice for the Three-Point Contest, so, I usually knock mine out in the morning before I got all my obligations. Today, this morning, did my Three-Point Contest yesterday morning, tomorrow morning I’ll do my practice. Just want to be prepared.

Moneyball rack, where you going to put it?

Last corner, always.

Why always?

Just because I want to know how my rhythm is going into the last one. Mentally, know if I absolutely need all these five, I gotta lock in. I like it to be the last rack because that’s where I can have some confidence there.

So obviously, that’s Saturday — Sunday is the main event, your second All-Star Game. Was it as cool hearing this time that you were going to be in the All-Star Game as it was last year when you found out you were in it for the first time?

Yeah, for sure. It never gets old. I don’t ever want this to get old, this feeling, there’s nothing like it. It’s a complete honor. And this year, I was number one in fan vote, and same with players and the media. So, I think that just goes to show the work that I’ve been putting in and I think that the respect from the media and the fans means the world, but even more so my peers showing that respect, as well, means the world to me. So, definitely a really exciting moment for me.

How does it feel knowing all that happened for the All-Star Game in the place where you play? Like, you represent the city and you are going to be going out there as a starter in the city that, you put that jersey on every single day.

Yeah, it’s amazing. It’s an amazing feeling. It’s amazing that I didn’t have to pack a million things this weekend and I can just, if I got to run a quick audible on an outfit, it’s easy to do. So, that’s nice to be home and still have my daily routines and still get to eat food from my chef and all those good things. So, it’s nice that he’s home. Obviously, that means all eyes are on me, I gotta be on point with a lot of things. But that’s nothing, I’m just excited to be here.

I mean, I’m probably what your 10,000,000th interview like this today? It stretches you thin, but at the same time, I imagine it says a lot that you’re the guy who’s getting the chance to do all this.

Yeah, for sure. I mean, it’s all part of it, part of the business. It comes with the territory, you know? So, I don’t complain ever, it’s all part of it. And honestly, I would rather this than the opposite, you know what I mean? Like, I’d rather the attention be on me than nobody cares about anything I do, you know? So, it’s definitely exciting.

This has been a really great year for you and for the Pacers. Now that you have a chance to sit back, kick your feet up, decompress and look back on this first half of the year, what have you been happiest about? And where do you want to see you guys really lock down and focus on this last stretch?

I’ve been happy about the energy we’ve played with. Happy that I think nobody saw us as the 6-seed this year, nobody would have possibly imagined that for us. So, it’s cool that we’re there. But in this last year third of the season, we just want to lock in on being better defensively, get stops when we need to. It’s just growing our synergy — we lost Buddy [Hield], who is one of our core guys when it comes to our offensive principles. And him being gone, other guys have to step up to fill that void that he left. And then adding Pascal, I’ve been on a minutes restriction since we got him back, so just trying to get our rotations down right. How do we play off each other the right way? Keep growing that way so we can make a playoff push here soon.

Obviously getting Pascal is gigantic — he’s a guy who had been linked to you guys for a bit. What stuck out from that first day, that first practice, that first game when you got a chance to get on the floor with him?

I just think about our first conversation in the meal room, just talking about our expectations, what we expect from each other. Even the phone call — we had a phone call sometime before he got traded about the possibility of it happening, and I just could tell that he was very authentic, in his words and his aspirations and stuff like that, wanting to win. And that means the world to me, because that’s all I want.

You mentioned wanting to win. You guys are in a playoff spot right now, but you almost got a little bit of a taste of it earlier this year, In-Season Tournament.


You’re the rare team that, you’re waiting to break through to the playoffs, but you also got that playoff feeling of going as LeBron, going against Giannis, going against these guys. How does something like that help you as you’re trying to make this push, and you’re getting ready for the thing that you all play for at the end of the season?

I think it makes me hungrier, playing in that. I wish every game felt that way, I think that’s why we had a little … I would bet as a group, that’s why there was a little bit of a drop off after the In-Season Tournament. Because those games, there was so much energy in them and so much intensity and everything involved in those games, you want it so bad. And then you just go right back into the regular season with some games — we played in, I think, Detroit right after, no fans were there! So, I think it just makes us want to play in front of that environment again, we’ve seen what our city does and how they rally behind us in big games, so I think that, out of anything, that just makes us want to play in those even more.

What is it, “In 49 states it’s just basketball, but this is Indiana”? When you have something like that tournament run, can you really feel that it’s just a little bit different here in Indiana?

Yeah, for sure. No question. Me and KG had a good conversation on his podcast where he just kind of alluded to, yeah, Indy’s a small market, but the best part about it is it’s the Midwest — friendly people, when I’m going to the gas station, somebody’s coming up to me, high fiving. Wherever I’m at, they’re coming up, showing love, whatever. People just want to see us do well. And I think the cool part about Indy is everybody’s invested in the team. Obviously, we have a lot of good things going on, the Colts have a lot of stuff going on, we’re both young and up-and-coming groups. So, I think it’s a great time to be an Indy sports fan.

You guys have such a great team and so many pieces that fit really well around you. As the point guard, it’s a “heavy is the head that wears the crown” thing. How do you make sure you keep your teammates involved on every single possession? Can you feel, you know, “I haven’t gotten Aaron a jumper”?

Oh, for sure.

So, how do you feel that? What does that feel like it, and how do you just have that inherent sense of knowing “I gotta get him the ball, gotta give him the ball, let him do his thing”?

I think that’s the main job of the point guard. I was always told being the point guard of a team is like being the mom of the household. My mom’s job was she kept all her kids happy, kept us all fed, kept us all good. So, I feel like that’s part of my responsibility, having feel and understanding, oh, this guy hasn’t got a shot in a little bit. Let me run a play for him.

Some guys, they don’t necessarily care about their shots, they just want to feel involved. So, they want a play where they can just touch the ball. I know that sounds kind of crazy, but it’s the truth. Some guys just want to be involved, so I just got to figure that out. That’s the balance and that’s what I always tell the young point guards that I’m around — not in the NBA, high school kids or whatever. Your job is to keep everybody happy. You see he’s starting to get frustrated about something, go talk to him, get him the ball one time, see what he does. Those are all important things, I think very valuable things of being a point guard.

Is that something that you’ve always kind of had? That inherent sense that inherent feel? Or is that something that, as you’ve grown as a player from high school, to Iowa State, to Sacramento, and now Indiana, you’ve had to develop a little bit?

I feel like I developed it when I was really young. I feel like that was the time, especially because when we were young, in our area, we were the best team around. So, we just used to beat everybody, and so coach would always leave me in at the end of the game with the end of the bench guys so I could just pass them the ball and give them shots. And I think I’ve always … my whole life, there’s always just been a big enjoyment in seeing all my teammates eat. The kids who don’t really get to play in the big games, seeing them score and feeling good about that when we’re playing well. So, I think that’s just been a part of my life.

Nice. Let’s talk about professional wrestling.

Yes, please!

What has been just this last, like, month or two been like as a fan of the product? It’s never been better.

Yeah, it’s become more mainstream than than ever, and I think that’s cool. I got people in the locker room coming up to me, asking me about it. Just did the Pat McAfee show yesterday, we talked about it. It’s becoming more mainstream than ever and I think that’s really cool and very enjoyable for me as a fan of the product — not only the surface level but I feel like I’m a, what’s the word they use? A mark. I feel like I’m a little bit of a mark. I love wrestling.

As a fellow mark, same. What do you want to happen in the main event of WrestleMania?

Okay, so, what I want. I wanted The Rock to turn heel, it looks like we’re getting that [ed. note: this interview was conducted before The Rock turned heel on Friday night’s edition of SmackDown]. I want him to go back to the Hollywood gimmick. I want night one to be Seth and Cody versus Rock and Roman — that seems where we’re going right now. And night two, still get Cody-Roman, and then Seth versus insert opponent there. Probably Drew McIntyre, Drew probably makes the most sense. Or Sami Zayn. I want Chad Gable versus Gunther more than anything.


I don’t want … it seems like they’re kind of building up Sami to be in that that role, and that’d be cool to see him win the title. But I want Gable to take the title out of anyone.

I am so happy we got a Chad Gable mention.


He’s, like, the best guy nobody talks about.

For sure, he’s amazing.