Pacers: Haliburton, Brunson ‘rivalry’ adds another chapter at FIBA World Cup

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - AUGUST 07: Tyrese Haliburton #4 and Jalen Brunson #11 of the United States. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - AUGUST 07: Tyrese Haliburton #4 and Jalen Brunson #11 of the United States. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

Tyrese Haliburton and Team USA have been on a roll in the FIBA World Cup, going 3-0 so far against New Zealand, Greece, and most recently, Jordan, and winning those games by an average of about 34 points. The game against Jordan was especially spectacular, with USA routing new FIBA sensation Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and his squad by 48 points.

Steve Kerr finally made a change to the starting lineup. However, it did not involve Haliburton or Austin Reaves as many had assumed. Instead, Kerr made another smart decision, moving Josh Hart to the starting lineup in place of Brandon Ingram. This gave Team USA a better defender, rebounder, and shooter.

This move also keeps Haliburton on the bench with Reaves, which may very well be a smart move since they may be too good of a bench tandem to split up just yet, and Team USA has a clear advantage when the second unit comes in. Perhaps Haliburton and Reaves are better coming off the bench and do not need to be starters to produce big numbers and good performances.

Haliburton & Brunson’s ‘rivalry’

With them both being All-Star-level point guards on two Eastern Conference teams with history, the Tyrese Haliburton and Jalen Brunson comparisons have been prevalent ever since Brunson broke out with New York last season. Throughout the year, fans of both teams and the media have been comparing the two.

Of course, who could forget when Wally Szczerbiak ripped into Haliburton in December, calling him a “wannabe All-Star” and putting guys like Brunson and Julius Randle over him in All-Star consideration?

Even when Szczerbiak was silenced by a spectacular Haliburton performance against Boston, he gave a back-handed apology, praising him and acknowledging that he was wrong. Still, he included Brunson and Randle in the conversation, insinuating that he does not believe Haliburton is on their level.

This series of events was the starting point of a lengthy comparison battle between Pacers and Knicks fans over who is better between Haliburton and Brunson. Brunson’s starting nod over Haliburton in the FIBA World Cup gave Knicks fans more fuel.

However, with Haliburton’s solid performances and with Team USA always going on scoring runs with him on the floor, Pacers fans still have a case for Haliburton, even if it is in international play.

To his credit, Brunson has also been very solid, putting up some impressive performances and being key to Team USA’s big scoring runs with his fantastic efficiency and scoring ability.

Haliburton and Brunson have not let this negativity from fans and constant comparisons hinder their ability to get along, as they have been spotted joking around plenty of times in Team USA practices and after games.

Following Team USA’s first exhibition game on August 8, Brunson forgot his wallet in the locker room, and Haliburton and Brandon Ingram took full advantage, treating themselves to some snacks and eliciting a very funny reaction from Brunson.

Following the recent win against Jordan, Brunson went at Haliburton in a joking manner, calling him out for his lack of ability to use chopsticks, with fellow USA and Knicks teammate and good friend of Haliburton, Josh Hart, also chiming in, taking a dig at Indy’s apparent lack of cuisine

Haliburton would follow this up very soon with a response video:

This is all very interesting to me, as while their respective teams’ fans are at war with each other, Haliburton and Brunson seem very friendly.

This is great for Team USA, as the more chemistry they build with each other, the better their play is on the court. With them advancing to the second round of group play with the win against Jordan, they need all the bonding and chemistry they can get, and it seems like Haliburton is building chemistry with everyone, even his so-called rivals.