Monday, May 20, 2024

Tyrese Haliburton can’t confirm he’s on Team USA, but ‘it would men the world to me’

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INDIANAPOLIS — Though news broke Tuesday that Pacers All-Star point guard Tyrese Haliburton will be part of the U.S. senior national team for this summer’s Olympics in Paris, Haliburton still had to speak of it Tuesday at practice as a hypothetical, not officially.

It wasn’t that difficult for him to do that in part because he’s been open and public in his desire to be on the team, especially since playing for Team USA in the FIBA World Cup last summer. When asked about it Tuesday, he struck the same tone as he has when talking about it previously while making sure to use the word “if” a lot.

“It would mean the world to me,” Haliburton said. “At the end of the day, I think all of us as kids have grown up watching USA Basketball and every Fourth of July putting on a USA Basketball jersey. I’ve done that my whole life watching my heroes play USA Basketball. It would mean a lot to me to get that opportunity. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”

Haliburton said it will mean even more because the FIBA World Cup team didn’t have the success he was hoping for. He averaged 8.6 points per game on 51.1% shooting, including 47.2% from 3-point range and he led the team with 5.6 assists per game coming off the bench as the backup point guard behind New York’s Jalen Brunson. However, the Americans lost in the semifinals to Germany and then in the Bronze Medal game to Canada to walk away without a medal.

Haliburton followed his international performance up by leading the NBA in assists with 10.9 per game and setting a Pacers single-season record with 752 total assists. He also averaged 20.1 points per game and was named an Eastern Conference All-Star starter for the All-Star game in Indianapolis in February.

“I was a part of that team that didn’t have the success that we necessarily wanted,” Haliburton said. “To get that opportunity to go back this year and play for something bigger would mean the world for me. At the end of the day, it’s USA basketball. There’s nothing bigger than it, nothing better than it.”

Haliburton said he grew up wearing Team USA jerseys of LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. If the reported rosters are true, of course, he will team with James and Curry on this Olympic team. He said it would be especially meaningful to be on the team to represent his hometown of Oshkosh, Wis.

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“It would mean the world, not just for me, but to represent where I’m from,” Haliburton said. “I don’t know if anyone’s ever played in the Olympics or done anything in the Olympics where I’m from. Even in my area, you know what I mean? That would be cool to represent where I’m from, my family and this organization. It would be awesome.”

Pacers coach Rick Carlisle couldn’t speak to Haliburton’s inclusion either, but did bring up without prompting that it was “rumored” that he would be on the team and told reporters that they should check Team USA’s social media on Wednesday.

“It would be a great accomplishment,” Carlisle said. “It would be a great feather in the cap of USA basketball, because he’s such a great connector and such a great young player.”

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