Once a week here on Clippers.com, we'll spotlight a proud member of Clipper Nation. This week, we introduce season ticket holder Bob Lyons.
How long have you been a season ticket holder?
Iíve been a season-ticket holder since 2004. I hold six season seats. One thing Iíve been doing with the Clippers since 1997 is bringing large groups of people to games. Iíve brought close to 6,000 people to Clippers games in a single year.
What type of groups do you bring to games?
Iíve been bringing a youth sports group out of the South Bay for 14 years. I always tell this story -- when I was a kid growing up in Chicago, every year one of my coaches would take all of us to Wrigley Field to watch the Cubs play. I remember that as being a big highlight in my life that we were able to go to the game with all the other kids. It was so much fun. I started it with this group back in 1997 to get people together and go out and have a good time and be able to play on the court at halftime. Now we have a fundraiser where weíre raising money to give back into the schools in the South Bay.
Who usually comes to the games with you?
My wife, friends, and business partners. Weíve got a lot of friends who have become dedicated Clippers fans over the years.
Where are your seats located?
Section 117, right on the railing where the players come in.
Youíve been associated with the NBA for a long time, is that right?
Back in 1990, I was the first person to provide charter aircrafts for the NBA. We had three aircrafts that had become available because we were increasing our fleet. In 1988-89, the Detroit Pistons had won back-to-back championships and there was a lot of talk about them having an added advantage because they had their own airplane while the other teams were flying commercial. It was the perfect scenario. Why not present these airplanes to a few NBA teams and see if they were interested in doing it? I met with Jerry West and signed up the Lakers. The second team I went to was my hometown team, the Chicago Bulls. The third team, because I wanted to get a team on the East Coast and a marquee team, was the Boston Celtics. To this day, theyíre still my clients 20 years later and Iím still providing planes for them.
Those were the first three teams. Within four years, every team in the NBA had chartered airplanes. I was the first guy in, so a lot of people were calling me. Iíve literally dealt with every NBA team.
What are some of your favorite memories from those experiences?
My big claim to fame was in 1992, flying the original Dream Team to Barcelona. I handled all of their air charter travel. It was an unbelievable group of guys. Prior to leaving for Europe, P.J. Carlesimoís family threw a party. They only invited a handful of people, but I was fortunate enough to be a part of that. Iíll never forget it. I was sitting outside in the backyard and I had Chuck Daly on my right and Coach Krzyzewski on my left. Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were all there as well. At the time, youíre part of it and itís all good and theyíre great people. It takes a while to look back and say Ďwow, that was really special.í Especially since there will probably never be a team like that again.
Whatís one of your favorite things about being a season ticket holder?
The people, the ushers at Clippers games -- theyíre all fabulous. I really enjoy the fans at Clippers games. Clipper fans are very knowledgeable and are dedicated to the team and the sport.
What are some of your favorite memories as a Clippers fan?
Iíll never forget the Phoenix playoff series when there was so much excitement in the air at STAPLES Center. My fondest memories are those playoff games and how excited people were. The All-Star game was really special this year because it gave Clippers fans something to hang their hat on.
How about all those years with the other teams?
Iíve been very fortunate. I was with the Bulls for six championships and I was with the Lakers for theirs. Iíve been with Phil Jackson for all his 11 championships. Iíve been in the locker room after winning the championship so Iíve been able to see that, hear it, feel itÖI just hope someday that the Clippers will be able to be in that situation. I hope someday theyíll be able to take it to the next level and the fans will be able to experience and enjoy a playoff run like the Lakers, Bulls or Celtics have.
Who were some of your favorite Clippers players?
Sam Cassell was definitely one of my favorite players. He rallied that team and got them to where they needed to be to get in the playoffs. We almost made it to the next round, we were one shot away. A lot of that had to do with Sam Cassell. It wasnít him scoring the baskets more than it was him in the locker room pumping those guys up and talking to them.
Youíve been around a lot of winning basketball. Is getting the right veteran players the tie between all those championship teams?
Yes Ė 100 percent. Go back and look at the way the Bulls were built in the 90ís. It was like traveling with Elvis when you had Rodman, Pippen and Jordan. You had all these celebrities, and then you had these guys like Jud Buechler. Judís a great guy -- donít get me wrong -- and a very good basketball player. But they brought people in for the chemistry purpose of being a veteran and a leader inside the locker room. Bill Wennington was another leader inside the locker room. Those guys were able to come into the locker room and make things happen. The Clippers need that seasoned veteran to come in who understands everything in order to tell these guys what it takes to win.
Iíve seen the teams how theyíre molded and built. On my side, you can see how they travel and how they react, how they work together. Itís such a family and a partnership to get to that ultimate goal. I hope it happens with the Clippers and I believe it will.