Jalen Brunson vs. Tyrese Haliburton in the ring? Knicks, Pacers stars square off at WWE SmackDown in MSG

WWE events at Madison Square Garden are always must-watch affairs, and Friday’s live taping of SmackDown was no exception. In fact, there was a crossover moment that NBA fans will not soon forget involving New York Knicks superstar Jalen Brunson and Indiana Pacers All-Star Tyrese Haliburton.

In recent days, Haliburton had been teasing his involvement in WWE. He was on hand for Monday Night Raw in Indianapolis and even had a brand-new shirt debut in honor of Indiana’s announcement that it would be hosting WWE’s three biggest premium live events — the Royal Rumble, WrestleMania and SummerSlam — over the next seven years.

So it was no surprise that Haliburton, whose Pacers knocked out the Knicks in the Eastern Conference semifinals several weeks ago, was on hand for SmackDown. The actual surprise was that Brunson was there to greet and ultimately confront him. Brunson was initially shown in the crowd enjoying the show with Haliburton entering alongside YouTuber and WWE United States champion Logan Paul as a means to draw heat from the New York crowd.

It worked. 

The newfound rivals shared a brief stare down before continuing to jaw at each other throughout the Money in the Bank qualifying match featuring Paul, LA Knight and Santos Escobar. Haliburton attempted to aid Paul with a pair of brass knuckles, but Brunson — ever the hero in New York — jumped the barricade to stop him from interfering. 

With Paul’s match over, Haliburton continued to jaw at the crowd and threaten Knight with the weapon only for Brunson to step into the squared circle with a steel chair to even the sides. Brunson and Knight got Haliburton and Paul to leave while helping defend the honor of the Knicks’ homecourt of Madison Square Garden. 

As the heel duo made their way backstage, Haliburton continued to jaw at the crowd, saying, “You already know I’m the best. I’ll be back.” Meanwhile, Brunson — steel chair in hand celebrated — with his new partner to a raucous crowd. 

While it remains unlikely that Brunson and Haliburton will reignite their rivalry in a formal match — as Karl Malone and Dennis Rodman once did in WCW — it was clear that there was no love lost between the two budding superstars.

While the Pacers did beat the short-handed Knicks in the semifinals, they went on to lose against the eventual NBA champion Boston Celtics; however, the sting of that series loss still remains in New York. Either way, it’s clear that these two have some unfinished business that will need to be settled either on the court or in the ring. Here’s hoping for the latter. 

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