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Adam Haluska, From 'Traitor' to Middle East Star to Ironman

Adam Haluska, From ‘Traitor’ to Ironman with the Middle East In-Between

This article was originally published July 18, 2019.

Adam Haluska played college basketball at Iowa and Iowa State, transferring from Ames to Iowa City in a controversial move that only added to the already-heated in-state rivalry in the mid-2000s.

By the time Haluska was a senior, he was averaging 20.5 points per game to lead the conference in scoring, earning consensus First Team All-Big Ten recognition.

Before college, Haluska was a star athlete at Carroll High School in Carroll, Iowa. He finished his career with 2,209 points and was named Iowa Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior. Other than on the court, Haluska shined on the track, winning eight individual prep state track titles and Most Outstanding Performer at the 2001 and 2002 Iowa State Track and Field Championships.

After graduating high school, Adam Haluska enrolled at Iowa State, and his freshman campaign, the guard started in all 31 games, contributing 9.2 points on 28.6 minutes each night. He seemed to be a budding star for the Cyclones.

In April 2003, Iowa State head coach Larry Eustachy resigned following what can only be described as a wild turn of events. Haluska publicly stated he had no intention of transferring, then eight days later announced he would not be at Iowa State the next year.

“Adam has made the decision to pursue his basketball career at another school,” Iowa State head coach Wayne Morgan, Eustachy’s replacement, told the Iowa State Daily in 2003. “It’s a surprise. It’s not something you want to have happen. But I’m sure we will absorb, go on, and will be fine.”

Adam Haluska elected to stay in his home state, selecting Iowa State’s archrival, Iowa, as his new school, something Ames still holds against him.

“I’m not going to get into details, but I never really felt settled in there,” Haluska said about his time at Iowa State in 2003. “There were things that I didn’t like and that my family didn’t like, and for me the best decision I could make was to remove myself from the situation.”

The guard restarted his college career in 2004 after redshirting during the 2003-04 season as required because of his transfer. As a sophomore, he received an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention after starting all 33 games and posting 14.7 points per outing. He helped Iowa earn a No. 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament, the school’s first Big Dance since 2001, and a 21-12 record. He continued to be a crucial presence for the Hawkeyes as a junior, leading the team to a No. 3 seed, 25-9 mark and a Big Ten Tournament championship, which he later called his favorite sports memory. In both trips to the tournament, Iowa lost in the first round.

After a disappointing 17-14 season and no NCAA Tournament in Haluska’s senior campaign, the guard moved on to the pros. The New Orleans Hornets selected him in the second round of the 2007 NBA Draft with the No. 43 overall pick.

There is nothing guaranteed for a second-round selection, so Haluska had to earn it all that summer.

“You gotta earn your stripes,” Haluska said on The Moonlight Graham Show in February 2018. “I was invited to go Summer League in Vegas, so I went out there. I was out there for about two-and-a-half weeks or so, but the first week was really practice, and so I kinda used that time to grind away and try to show them my skills and hustle. I was fortunate. I was one of the second-round picks that year to get a guaranteed contract and signed it at Summer League, so for my wife and I, that was as good as it gets. We were going to get married in a couple weeks, and we were going to start looking at places in New Orleans.”

Adam Haluska never ended up playing in an NBA regular season game, though. He was traded to the Houston Rockets in a three-team deal that sent Mike James and Bonzi Wells to New Orleans and Bobby Jackson and Haluska to Houston in February 2008, but never featured for the Hornets or Rockets. The Rockets waived him shortly after.

“As quick as you were in the NBA and you felt a part of it, like a flip of a switch, you’re out,” Haluska said on The Moonlight Graham Show.

The guard signed with the Iowa Wolves in the D-League to finish out the season. In 11 games, Haluska scored 18.7 points per contest, but it wasn’t enough to squeak the Wolves into the postseason.

“I ended up having a chance to play in Greece and a couple of other countries, but my wife at the time was pregnant, and I didn’t really want to leave the States and come back in May or June or whatever and she’s about to have a baby,” Haluska said on The Moonlight Graham Show. “There was an opportunity there to play close to home, and then maybe get a call up at the end of the season. So, we packed our bags and we headed to Des Moines.”

The Hornets asked Haluska back to their Summer League team, which Haluska said excited him. It didn’t work out, though, and Haluska had a host of overseas options to choose from.

“I had an opportunity to go play in Jerusalem, and so there’s a number of teams that were in the mix, but at the end of the day I always remembered a conversation,” Haluska told The Moonlight Graham Show. “There was a guy out in L.A., and he said, ‘Hey Adam, if you’re a borderline guy, if you’re in the league or not, if you get a chance to go to Israel, you’ve got to go.’ And so that stuck in my head, and while all these other things were going on, I remembered the conversation. It was guaranteed money. It was an opportunity to place in a holy city, one of the coolest places on earth. You could do that route, or you could wait and try to go on a training camp team with an NBA team. Non-guaranteed, they could cut you, release you whenever, and you could be out the door looking for a D-League job or a job overseas, so I took the overseas thing because it was guaranteed.

“We packed our bags. We had just had our first baby at the time, my daughter Jerzey was born. Eight weeks old and we take her to Jerusalem and we start a life overseas.”

In August 2008, Adam Haluska signed with Hapoel Jerusalem. He spent the 2008-09 season playing for the club.

“We felt really at home,” Haluska said to The Moonlight Graham Show. “To be honest, I felt more comfortable playing in the Middle East in Jerusalem, than we did in New Orleans … It felt like home for us.”

A lingering foot injury was reaggravated early into his Hapoel career when he felt it break going up for a dunk during a preseason game. He was sent back to America for surgery, then returned to Israel after a few weeks of rehab. Haluska could only play in the last few months of the season. 

More injury issues, this time two sports hernias, forced Adam Haluska to turn down contract offers to return overseas for the following campaign. After several months of recovery, Haluska tried to jump start his basketball career. He spent the training camp with the Dallas Mavericks but was released shortly before the start of the season.

He had an offer to play in Prague, but after talking it over more with his wife, they decided to decline the deal.

“Am I doing it for the love of the game, or am I doing it for money?” Haluska said he asked himself on The Moonlight Graham Show. “If I’m doing it for money, you can’t put a price tag on time with family, my kids growing up close to family, friends, all that. So, we decided to say no and literally left the plane tickets and said we’re going to stay home and I’m going to start a career. And so, that’s kind of how it ended. It’s weird. It’s not because of injury. Just family, being close to them and not wanting to leave the country ultimately is why I stayed.”

Since concluding his professional basketball days a decade ago, Haluska has started a career in financial advising, putting the business degree he earned at Iowa to use first at Edward Jones and now at Wells Fargo in Coralville, Iowa.

Adam Haluska continued in athletics, though, completing Ironman Wisconsin in 2013, a race consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, 111-mile bike and 26.2-mile run. His goal was to finish in 12 hours and did so in 11 hours and 48 minutes. He placed 70th in the 30-34 age division and 455th overall out of 3,000 entrants. Haluska had no previous experience before committing to the race.

“I signed up with my friend, Sean Merrick, the day after the 2012 Wisconsin Ironman,” Haluska told the Carroll Times Herald in 2013. “We went to Madison to sign up in person to secure a spot for the next year’s race. As we were standing in a line of about 1,000 people, we started talking and getting advice from everyone we were around. I’d be lying if I didn’t say these guys in line were laughing at Sean and I. They couldn’t believe we had never swam open water, biked over 100 miles, or even attempted a marathon.

Once we got home that night, I really started a year long program to complete the Ironman. The first few months started out slow. We averaged about eight hours of training a week and most of the training was really trying to figure out how to swim.

Once I got to 30 weeks out from Sept. 8, training really picked up. I started to average 13-plus hours of training a week.

By the time I reached six weeks from the Ironman day, I was averaging between 18 to 20 hours a week of training. We were swimming five to six miles a week, biking 150-plus miles and running close to 40 miles all in a six-day training week. I tried to squeeze in a workout every morning before work starting at 5 a.m. and usually had a workout or two that evening after work. I know my wife was glad when Sept. 8 finally rolled around.”

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