Today's ABA is a relaunch of the original ABA that brought us teams like the Indiana Pacers, the Denver Nuggets, the San Antonio Spurs and the New York (now Brooklyn) Nets, along with players like Julius Erving, Wilt Chamberlain, George McGinnis and Mel Daniels. ABA basketball is a high-scoring, quick-tempo game, and the current league even plays with a red, white and blue basketball like the original league did!
The Indiana Lyons joined the ABA in 2018, and I attended their first regular season game simply out of curiosity and because I love sports -- especially minor league teams like the Indianapolis Indians, Indy Eleven and Indy Fuel.
I could write an entire column on why I generally prefer minor league sports to major league sports, but I'll spare you and summarize instead. In addition to being much cheaper, I have a lot more fun at minor league sporting events because it's a more personal experience than what the typical fan gets at a major league sporting event.
I have followed the Lyons since their inaugural season opener, and I've worked for the team for the past few seasons. I've got some pretty good insight to share with you about what to expect at a Lyons game.
(I also love spending the team owners' money, so I have a special deal for you at the end of this post!)
The Lyons play their home games in Bosstick Gym -- affectionately known as the Lyons Den -- located at 49 N. Wayne St. in Danville, Indiana. The gym is located within Danville Town Hall, directly off U.S. 36, and is a stone's throw from the historic Hendricks County Courthouse Square and its shops and restaurants.
Town Hall is lined with yard signs on game days, so it's quite obvious where all the hubbub is taking place as you drive into town.
Instead of battling traffic, paying for parking and hoofing it to the venue as you would for a major league event, Lyons fans will find plentiful free parking in lots directly across the street from the Lyons Den and along the surrounding streets.
All seating is general admission, so you can sit on either side of the gym, up close or as far away as you want, or you can move around the gym during the game to find your favorite vantage point.
Easy on the Wallet
General admission tickets are just $10 a person. If you're a child under the age of 10, a senior citizen, active military or a military veteran, your tickets are just $5 each. You can purchase tickets in advance online, or you can buy them at the game. Major credit cards are accepted.
Even in today's economy, the Indiana Lyons have never raised ticket prices in their five-year existence. This is very important to team owners Tyrone and Deborah Brown because they insist that Lyons games be something that families can afford to attend over and over throughout the season.
The Lyons offer very reasonably-priced concessions -- again, a very important concept by the team owners -- and several ways to show your team spirit by purchasing Lyons merchandise ranging from silicone wristbands to mini basketballs (great for autographs!) to ball caps to T-shirts to jerseys.
Not all families have the same income, so the Browns want to make sure there is a wide variety of Lyons gear for everyone.
Concerned about bringing the kids to a Lyons game? Don't be. The entire organization is very family-friendly.
Home games are played on Saturdays and Sundays, and the game time is always 5 p.m. on Saturdays and 4 p.m. on Sundays so that kids can enjoy a basketball game but still get home and into bed at a decent hour. Once again, this is by design.
Before each game, the Lyons bring out a bunch of basketballs and let kids play on the court and shoot baskets. At halftime, the team frequently has games and contests for the kids on the court that double as entertainment for the adults in the stands. After games, the kids can shoot a few more hoops before heading home.
Access to the Players
This is my favorite part of minor league sports.
As the Lyons players warm up, kids frequently line up courtside for hand-slaps -- and the players are happy to oblige.
After games, fans (referred to by the organization as the Lyons Pride) pour onto the court, and the players stay and chat with them, shake their hands, sign autographs, thank them for coming to the game, answer questions, pose for photos and take a big group photo at center court with anyone who wants to join them.
Many players are active on social media and are more than happy to connect and interact with fans. The players invest themselves in fans' lives outside of basketball, just as they hope the fans invest in them as both ball players and human beings.
It's a really fun, rewarding relationship between the players and fans.
The ABA -- comprised of more than 150 teams across North America and Japan -- has some unique rules that might cause basketball purists to squirm, but they make for a fast-paced and high-scoring game that's full of excitement and action.
The most noticeable thing that's unique to the ABA is what they call the 3D Light. It's a rotating, flashing red light at the scoring table that looks like the kind of thing that an undercover police officer would slap onto the roof of his car in the 1970s when pursuing bad guys.
A few things can trigger the 3D Light during a game, but most often, it's when a team loses possession of the ball in the backcourt. When that happens, the light starts flashing, and a point is added to any field goal that's made while the light is on. So a typical two-point shot is now worth three points. A three-pointer is worth four points. Sink a shot from half-court while the 3D Light is on, and it's five points.
The 3D Light stays on until the team scores, attempts a free throw or loses possession of the ball.
Teams must move the ball across half-court in 7 seconds, rather than the 8 seconds that are allowed in the NBA. Half-court violations result in a change of possession and a flashing 3D Light.
Players do not foul out. However, after a player commits his sixth foul, every foul thereafter is considered a technical foul, resulting in the opposing team shooting a free throw and gaining possession of the ball.
You might be wondering, are the Indiana Lyons any good? Yes. they are.
In their first four seasons, the Indiana Lyons have turned in four winning records, four appearances in the ABA Playoffs, a North Central Region championship, an appearance in the ABA's Final Eight Tournament and, most recently, ended the 2021-22 season as finalists in the Midwest Region championship.
The team is perpetually ranked in the Top 25 of the ABA. They compete in the ABA Midwest Region, which includes teams from Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee and Mississippi. The Lyons are the only team from Indiana. They also regularly play against teams from Ohio, Kentucky and Pennsylvania.
Entering the 2022-23 season, the Lyons have a cumulative winning percentage of .708 over four years, including a staggering .814 winning percentage at home in the Lyons Den. That's in large part due to the biggest and loudest fan base anywhere that the team has encountered in the ABA thus far. I travel with the team, and I can tell you first-hand that it's not even close.
The ABA's Final Eight Tournament and Championship Game will be held in Atlanta, Georgia in April 2023, and that's exactly where the Lyons' sights are set for this season. Lyons head coach Jamarr Keglar fully expects the Lyons to compete in that tournament as the 2022-23 Midwest Region Champions.
You really need to experience a Lyons game and the Lyons Den to fully appreciate Hendricks County's only professional basketball team.
One fantastic opportunity to experience a Lyons game that will be especially easy on the wallet is on Saturday, Oct. 1 in the annual First Responders Game. Current and former Lyons players, along with police officers, firefighters, EMTs and other area first responders combine to play an entertaining game of basketball that will give you the first glimpse of the 2022-23 roster. Doors open at 4 p.m. with tipoff at 5 p.m.
Because of a very generous sponsorship from Deka Lash in Plainfield Commons, admission to the First Responders Game is absolutely free to the first 1,000 fans! The team is collecting canned goods for a local food pantry, so bring some canned food to donate, and then enjoy the game and the atmosphere for free!
Now then, I promised you a special offer for reading this blog post, right? Here's the deal:
The 2022-23 regular season opener is Saturday, Nov. 5 at 5 p.m. Doors open at 4 p.m. The Lyons' opponent in this game is a new ABA team from Illinois called the Excelsior Springs Scream.
The team is inviting all kids to wear their Halloween costumes one last time to the game and then trick-or-treat from the Lyons players afterwards! (Get it? Scream?? Halloween??) It's going to be a fun time!
So for reading this post, sharing it with everyone you know, and developing an interest in the Indiana Lyons, I'd like to offer everyone a 50% discount promo code for tickets to the Nov. 5 game against the Scream.
You must purchase your tickets online in advance to get them at half-price, and to do that, you'll want to click here. Then enter the promo code INHENDRICKS. Purchase your tickets online, and then we'll see you in the Lyons Den on Nov. 5 and throughout the rest of the season!
- Home games at Bosstick Gym, 49 N. Wayne St., Danville, Ind.
- All home games on Saturdays at 5 p.m. or Sundays at 4 p.m.
- Tickets: $10/person; $5 for kids under 10, senior citizens, active military and military veterans
- Purchase tickets online
- Tickets can also be purchased at the door; major credit cards accepted