Tyrese Haliburton is a professional basketball player. Initially drafted by the Sacramento Kings in the lottery of the 2020 NBA Draft, the Iowa State product was traded to the Indiana Pacers in a controversial move for Damontas Sabonis back in February of 2022 and has since gone on to become the featured player of Rick Carlisle’s rebuilding squad.
Why, you may ask, is the third-year combo guard, who is averaging a career-high 21.6 points, 9.9 assists, and 1.8 steals a night on 50.6 percent shooting from the field, 45.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc, and 87.8 percent shooting from the line being discussed in an article about WWE? Well, as it turns out, Hali is a huge fan of professional wrestling and was even given a premium pass to go backstage and enjoy the show when SmackDown came through the Gainbridge Fieldhouse in beautiful Indianapolis, Indiana for a show.
With the night off from basketball before his team’s Saturday night showdown against the Toronto Raptors on his home turf, Kayla Braxton caught up with the potential All-Star to see what his WWE experience had been like to that point, what he was looking forward to on the show, and whether or not he would ever get in the ring for a bump or two down the line.
Tyrese Haliburton would like to get in a WWE ring down the line.
When asked what it was like to be backstage at SmackDown in his team’s home arena, Haliburton could hardly hold back his excitement.
“I’m really excited,” Haliburton told Braxton. “I get to see everyone, get to meet everyone, so it’s been awesome.”
When asked if there was anyone he was excited about meeting in particular, Haliburton named off a few of his favorites, including a certain 14-time champion-turned-head-of-creative who has taken the WWE Universe by storm.
“I met the New Day in the back, I met The Usos in the back, I met Triple H in the back,” Haliburton responded. “So I’ve met some awesome people, I’ve seen some awesome people, so it’s been cool.”
When Braxton noticed that Haliburton was wearing a Triple H shirt, she asked about their meeting specifically, to which Haliburton shared that “The Game” now has one of his jerseys too.
“Yeah, I gave him (Triple H) a jersey, I gave him a Pacers jersey, we took a nice little picture, so it was pretty cool,” Haliburton said.
Whoa, a gift to Trips, instead of the other way around? Well, considering how much the current bookerman likes mementos – and spectacle – that surely boded well for his future prospects of becoming part of the greater WWE Universe Rob Gronkowski and/or Pat McAfee-style.
Impressed by his gift-giving, Braxton asked Haliburton how it felt to be at his home arena to watch the show, as WWE usually uses sports arenas when their home team(s) are away. Needless to say, Haliburton was overjoyed with the opportunity, even if he wasn’t called out in the ring by any of the performers Lamar Jackson-style.
“Usually the Pacers are gone when WWE comes to town, so our team called me when they found out the schedule and I’m really excited,” Haliburton told Braxton.
“Yeah for sure,” Haliburton said. “I told Triple H, ‘I just want one bump, just one bump,’ I don’t know when it’s gonna be, it’s far away from now, but just one, that’s all I need.”
Oh snap, he called it a bump – Haliburton is one of us. So what would his in-ring vibe be? Would he stick to his current vibe, or would he don a new look, new, name, or maybe even a new hood to hide his identity? Haliburton isn’t totally sure, but he has an idea.
“I haven’t thought about it,” Haliburton said. “I think I would run with my name, Tyrese Haliburton, but my ring gear? Some sort of basketball attire, some shorts, some sneakers, maybe no shirt, but maybe we’ll see one day.”
Welp, there you have it, folks; Haliburton would like to take a bump, knows what a bump is, and even has a general idea of what his in-ring attire would look like. While it’s not particularly common for stars from one sport to jump to another, there were plenty of basketball players who have had second careers, or even just fun, newsworthy appearances, from Dennis Rodman in WCW to Shaquille O’Neal in AEW, and even Dwight Howard, who is both destined for the NBA Hall of Fame for his incredible list of accolades and appeared at WWE tryouts earlier this year before ultimately signing a contract to play basketball in Taiwan. Who knows, maybe Haliburton could join that list too.