Tyrese Haliburton says there’s no rivalry between the Pacers and the Bucks despite ‘game ball controversy’

Tyrese Haliburton squashes any beef between the Indiana Pacers and the Milwaukee Bucks.

Indiana Pacers All-Star Tyrese Haliburton nipped in the bud any talks of a rivalry between his team and the Milwaukee Bucks despite the unfortunate brouhaha over the game ball that ensued in an earlier match-up between the two teams. Haliburton asserted that he and the Pacers hadn’t compiled enough of a history with the Bucks to even consider them as rivals.

Not a rivalry

Speaking on JJ Redick’s podcast, the All-Star guard kept it real about their so-called “rivalry,” saying the Pacers still have a long way to go to get to the Bucks’ level.

“Is it a rivalry? We’ve never played in the playoffs. They have a championship. I’ve never played a playoff game. That’s a rivalry?” Haliburton quipped.

However, the Oshkosh native said he understands the narrative behind the supposed rivalry. The Pacers and Bucks have had heated battles this season, including one game in December where Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a career-high 64 points and went toward Indiana’s locker room to try and retrieve what he believed was the game-used basketball.

“I’m all for agendas though, if you want this to be a rivalry, if we wanna call it a rivalry, I’m all for it.”

Cleared the air

Haliburton also shared his side of the story behind the events that occurred after the aforementioned game. The Bucks had won 140-126, and Giannis had wanted the game ball to serve as memorabilia for his career-high performance.

“My trainer was sitting courtside, my strength coach growing up, so I walked out, gave him my jersey, whatever. I turned around, and there was some talk, back and forth. You know, the Bucks do the huddle in the middle after games. So, there was some talk from that little huddle towards our group as we were walking off. So I’m watching it as I’m walking off … (assistant coach) Lloyd (Pierce) is waiting for me, and then one of the Bucks assistant coaches is going crazy on the other side,” Haliburton said.

Eastern Conference guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) of the Indiana Pacers


“So he’s kinda walking towards LP, and it’s just me and LP out there cause everybody’s gone, so that’s when those two are kind of now having a conversation, and I’m in the middle of it, and I’m kinda trying to calm down but I’m also like, ‘C’mon, you can’t walk over here,’ like it’s not that serious. And I think one of our assistants, Mike Weinar, had the basketball — had a basketball, not the basketball, a basketball. And he walked off with it, and I think Giannis saw it.”

That’s when Antetokounmpo went ballistic and ran toward the Pacers locker room with his brother Thanasis not far behind. Cooler heads eventually prevailed, and the incident didn’t escalate further. Haliburton made it clear, though, that they never had the game ball.

“We took the backup ball to give to our rookie, who scored his first points. … We never had the (game) ball. The ball was never in our possession,” Haliburton said.

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