“I’m gonna go crazy now against the Knicks,” Haliburton told Knicks reserve guard Josh Hart in a playful banter during one of Team USA’s early practices in Las Vegas.
The friendly trash talk between the two Team USA teammates was caught on film when Haliburton was on the mic. It was shown as part of the halftime feature on Haliburton during Team USA’s 99-91 win over Germany on Sunday.
Haliburton was absent due to injury in Hart’s first two meetings against the Pacers last season after arriving in New York at the trade deadline.
The Knicks split those two games, which came late in the regular season after they had locked up the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference.
With the Knicks’ key players resting, Hart got his first starting gig under Tom Thibodeau and delivered six points, 12 rebounds, seven assists, four steals and one block in a 138-129 win on April 5 in Indianapolis. But four days later, in their regular-season finale, in New York, the Pacers exacted revenge despite being without Haliburton.
Hart’s double-double (10 points, 11 rebounds) off the bench was not enough to help the Knicks repeat over the Pacers.
Tyrese Haliburton’s Axe to Grind Against Knicks
While Haliburton’s trash-talking with Hart appeared as a harmless joke, he has some ax to grind against the Knicks after they passed up on him in the 2020 NBA Draft when the team needed a point guard.
And to add insult to injury, MSG Network analyst Wally Szczerbiak ripped Haliburton as “Mr. Supposed, Wannabe, Fake All-Star” when the Pacers guard shot 5-of-16 from the field in a 109-106 Knicks victory. Szczerbiak later issued a public apology.
Instead of taking the future All-Star point guard, the Knicks used the No. 8 pick to draft Obi Toppin, the National College Player of the Year at that time.
Toppin has not panned out in New York and, interestingly, is now Haliburton’s teammate after the Knicks shipped their former backup forward to the Pacers for a pair of late second-round picks.
Haliburton and the Pacers are scheduled to host Hart and the Knicks on December 30 in Indianapolis, then visit them at Madison Square Garden on February 1 and 10 next year.
Haliburton averaged 16.8 points, 6.2 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.2 steals against the Knicks in five games– the first three with his former team Sacramento Kings and the last two with the Pacers.
Bill Simmons Bats for Tyrese Haliburton Over Jalen Brunson
The Ringer’s Bill Simmons pushed for Haliburton over Brunson as Team USA’s primary point guard.
“Team USA’s biggest issue for the actual tournament — accepting that [Tyrese] Haliburton and [Austin] Reaves are [two] of the best guys on the team. They’re gonna have to be out there in any big situation even if feelings get hurt,” Simmons posted on X (formerly Twitter).
Simmons’ comments came on the heels of Brunson’s struggles on both ends of the floor against Germany’s backcourt of Dennis Schröder (16 points, 10 assists) and Andreas Obst (12 points, 2 assists).
Haliburton closed the game with Brunson on the bench as the Pacers’ All-Star sparked Team USA’s comeback from a 16-point deficit with 11 of his 16 points in a furious run toward the end of the third quarter.