Gary Varvel: ABA team owner Tyrone Brown’s second-chance Lyons

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Gary VarvelMy childhood home of Danville has a professional basketball team. I’m not kidding.

The Indiana Lyons is in its second year of play in the American Basketball Association. Yes, the ABA, which birthed the Indiana Pacers, red, white and blue basketballs, the 3-point shot and players like, George McGinnis and Julius Irving. It existed from 1967 to 1976 when it merged with the NBA.

But in 2000, the league got a second chance and the resurrected league uses its signature, colorful balls and has added a new innovation to the game. But more about that later.

This is a story about Avon business owner, Tyrone Brown, 58. He believes in second chances. In fact, he and his wife own Second Chance Staffing LLC, which helps people who have difficulties finding employment opportunities.

Two years ago, Brown met Beverly Jinkins at a Plainfield Chamber of Commerce meeting. After she heard about Second Chance Staffing, she talked to Brown about the new ABA, which gives players a second chance to chase their dream.

Brown felt this was an opportunity to combine his love for the game with his passion for helping people. So after praying about it with his wife, Deborah, she gave her blessing and Brown became the owner, CEO and the coach of the Lyons.

Brown recruited Jinkins to become the director of business development and pastors Craig Thurman, Curtis Gilbert and Darrel Ortiz to help coach, mentor and lead Bible studies with the players.

“We are a Christian-based organization,” said Brown. “We don’t try to convert you. We just tell you that as owners, this is who we are.”

The Lyons needed a den, so Brown asked the town of Danville about making the historic Bosstick Gymnasium its new home. Built in 1925 with approximately 1,250 seats, the former high school gym is currently part of the town hall. The town agreed and even helped renovate the gym to make it regulation size for the ABA, giving it a second chance as the new home of the Lyons.

Unlike the original ABA, which sought to compete with the established NBA, Brown envisions the Lyons becoming a feeder system to NBA or professional teams overseas.

“We all want a second chance,” Brown said. “That’s the reason we started it. To give players a second chance to fulfill their dreams.”

It’s important to Brown that the Lyons are involved with the community, so they have adopted IPS School 56. The players visit the school, read to the students and help mentor them. “We make everyone feel that they are part of our family once they come into what we call the Lyons den,” Brown said.

Now, as promised, here is the latest ABA innovation. The half-court violation: If a team does not advance the ball past the half-court line in 7 seconds (it’s 8 seconds in the NBA), it results in a turnover which initiates the 3D light.

When the 3D Light is on: a 2-point shot equals 3 points, a 3-point shot equals 4 points and a half-court shot equals 5 points. The rule makes for some high scoring games.

The Lyons’ first game is Oct. 5 when the team faces the Hendricks County First Responders. All games are played on Saturdays and Sundays at 5 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, while kids under 5 and seniors over 65 get in free. The gym is located at 49 North Wayne St. Danville.•

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Varvel is a political cartoonist and illustrator who retired from The Indianapolis Star last year. Send comments to [email protected]


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