INDIANA LYONS OWNER, TYRONE BROWN, READY TO INTRODUCE RESIDENTS TO ABA BASKETBALL
By Chris Cornwall
Tyrone Brown took a seat in the red and grey bleachers of historic Bosstick Gymnasium ready to talk about Hendricks County’s first professional basketball team. Brown is the owner and CEO of the Indiana Lyons, the team he launched earlier this year to compete in the American Basketball Association (ABA). The Lyons will call Bosstick – 49 North Wayne St., Danville – home during its inaugural season which begins on Saturday, Sept. 29 with a game against local first responders. Doors open at 4 p.m. and tipoff is at 5 p.m.; tickets are $10.
Of course, beating opponents on the court is good for business, but the biggest victory for Brown and his Lyons this year would be to win over local residents.
“The game will kind of let us know where we are because it’s an unknown. It’s never happened before in Hendricks County,” said the first-time team owner from Avon. “That’s our introduction to the community. We want them to see that being involved with the community is an integral part of what we want to do. We want to be community-based, but good on the basketball floor as well.”
Brown is originally from Chicago and moved to Avon three years ago. He is the owner and CEO of an IT consulting firm that he started 23 years ago. Although Brown has never owned a professional basketball team prior to this year, he said, “basketball is in my blood” and grew up watching the great Chicago Bulls teams of the 1990s. Brown also played some semi-pro ball himself.
For those unfamiliar with today’s American Basketball Association (ABA), it’s not the original ABA that played in the 60s and 70s. The name rights were bought from the NBA by one of the original ABA co-founders in 1999 who then launched the new league in 2000. The ABA currently has about 150 teams in North America and overseas.
“I believe this could be successful in Hendricks County,” Brown said. “When we looked around at different locations—high schools, community colleges—this was more of a hometown feel, Hoosier basketball. That’s why we decided we wanted to play here.”
While Brown wants his Lyons to become ingrained in the Hoosier basketball culture, he also acknowledges the fact that ABA teams launched in Indiana have struggled in the past. But Brown has done his homework, and needless to say, has a plan that starts with connecting with his fellow Hendricks County residents. He said he’s setting up the organization to cater to local families, especially parents with young kids.
“That’s the reason why our games are scheduled for 5 o’clock and not 7:30 because parents can bring their kids for a couple of hours, entertain them and still be able to take them out to dinner and get them to bed at a decent hour,’ said Brown, who’s a father of six children himself.
He also formed a group called the “Lyon Cubs” where kids can work with the team as waterboys and girls during home games.
Drawing fans to Bosstick Gymnasium could also boost sales for Danville’s small business owners, said Marcia Lynch, director of the Danville Chamber of Commerce. Lynch was one of the many local leaders that Brown met with to get the word out in Hendricks County.
“Tyrone is enthusiastic and seems dedicated to making this work,” Lynch said. “We wish the team luck and hope it is successful, which will bring new people to Danville to shop at our stores and eat in our restaurants.”
Brown said the Lyons held tryouts last May in Whitestown, Indiana, and currently has 15 players on the roster. The players are now in training camp which started earlier this month on Sept. 4.
For the most part, the league follows the same rules as the NBA and NCAA. However, some rules might seem a little bizarre to spectators new to the ABA, like 4-point field goals. Nonetheless, the business of professional sports is about entertainment, and with the season set to begin in two weeks, Brown said he’s starting to see good signs from the community.
“We think the momentum is here because we hear about it. People are now coming into the gym for the first time in years, people who’ve graduated from here. We are putting up banners and they are seeing the improvements from the shot clock to the new scoreboards.”
“We’ve spent a lot of time moving this needle forward, but it has been worth it to see the guys excited, to hear the community is excited.”