Pacers Opinion: Tyrese Haliburton’s Injury is a Gut Punch

Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana Pacers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana Pacers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Do you ever want something so bad that when it doesn’t happen, the resulting gut punch feels like it came at you, unsuspecting, from an invisible boxing champion confused at his whereabouts? When I was three years old, I spent one beautiful morning in Sunday School showing my teacher that I could jump off of a chair, spin in the air, and land, gymnast-poised and beaming. She thought it was cool enough that I ought to get my parents to see the incredible feat. I wanted so badly to impress them. Upon repetition of the circus endeavor, I broke my leg. I wasn’t supposed to jump off things quite as much anymore.

A couple of years later, at Vacation Bible School, I was dreaming of our family’s upcoming vacation to Arkansas to visit family. I wanted so badly to go tubing at the lake, but at the moment, my daydreaming had me taking too long to scramble across the monkey bars on the playground. My impatient friend behind me pushed me, and I fell and broke my arm. I wasn’t able to have hardly any fun on vacation.

Two years after that, I was jealous of all my cool friends who could slide down the 45-degree angle pole thingy at the school. They all held the support bar above the pole when sliding, but I wanted so badly to fit in that, in an attempt to reach heights of coolness never before seen among a group of second graders, I did not hold the support bar. My attempt failed. I fell and broke my other arm.

Just before the start of fourth grade, my older brother and I built a small ramp out of a few scrap boards in our detached garage. We so badly wanted something that could help our bikes, scooters, and rollerblades get airborne. Surprisingly, it absolutely worked. What did not work was trying to use the ramp to execute a rollerblade jump into a monster dunk on our lowered basketball hoop in the driveway. I fell and broke my wrist. At this point, when my parents yelled out the window to see what happened, I calmly told them that I’d broken another bone, and we executed the same hospital routine that we’d had for years.

Tyrese Haliburton will have, understandably so, wanted so badly to have a monster game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night. Having appeared on Adrian Wojnarowski’s podcast beforehand, Hali was asked about being called a “fake wannabe all-star” by Knicks broadcaster, Wally Szczerbiak. He responded by expressing no interest in conversing with Szczerbiak on the matter before moving on to show us all why his personality is so infectious.

I’m not afraid to say that I love Tyrese Haliburton. Maybe that’s a bit premature given that we’ve never met nor had any interaction to date whatsoever, but I’m liable to be the first to say it anyway, so I figured I’d just get out in front of the matter. I wanted so badly for Haliburton to stroll into MSG on Wednesday night and slap those disgraceful words right out of Wally’s mouth with a beautiful floating no-look assist to a Buddy Hield “Boom Baby!” 3-ball, or with a monster fastbreak slam, or with a game-winning step-back shot that would erase all memory of that close miss from December.

Instead, Haliburton’s one-shoed lilt to the locker room late in the third quarter delivered a body blow that won’t be soon forgotten. Instead of the post-game stories reading, “‘Fake Wannabe All-Star’ Haliburton Delivers Late-Game Heroics to Knock-Out Knicks,” the loss in New York became a non-story juxtaposed with questions about the extent of Ty’s injury.

Indiana Pacers
Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana Pacers (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

It’s since been reported that Haliburton will miss at least 2 weeks in order to recover from a sprained elbow and a knee bruise. It’s pertinent to note that the injury comes at a time that makes it even more difficult for the Pacers to know what to do ahead of the upcoming trade deadline.

That’s all yet to be determined. For now, it’s important as fans to sit with this pain in our stomachs. It’s good to be pulled from the desensitizing nature of chasing NBA transactions to experience, viscerally, the disappointment of a fierce desire unfulfilled.

And it’s even better to allow that emotion to grow and evolve into a deepened support for the rest of the squad who are, undoubtedly, gutted alongside the rest of us, so that the next two weeks aren’t an unmitigated parade for pitty, but a gutturally trumpeted rallying cry to propel our team to victory.

Go Pacers!

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