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|| News Item: Posted 2007-08-20

Terry Lyons Retires From the NBA: A Look Back
By Robert Hanashiro, Sports Shooter

Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler / NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler / NBAE via Getty Images

This picture happened because of Terry Lyons: Tim Duncan and David Robinson of the San Antonio Spurs hoist the NBA Finals MVP Award and the Championship trophy after winning Game six of the 2003 NBA Finals.
Long-time NBA executive Terry Lyons recently retired from the NBA, after 26 years with the league to spend more time with his family, relocating to New England.

Lyons began his career at the NBA as an intern in 1981. He held the Post of Director of Media Relations from 1989 to 1993 before being Promoted to Vice President and concentrating his efforts on the NBA's Soaring international growth. He has worked in conjunction with USA Basketball on the past four Summer Olympics and World Championships, dating back to the 1992 Barcelona Games.

He is currently "volunteering" his time with the USA men's national team as it tries to quality for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. The team, featuring Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard, is working out in Las Vegas in preparation for the upcoming FIBA Americas Championship 2007. The USA must finish in the top two to qualify for the Beijing Olympics.

Having spent a great deal of his career working with photographers, Sports Shooter asked Lyons to reminisce about his time in the NBA and the sport of basketball:

My fondest memory? Make that memories:

By far the toughest question in my 26 years. I have to say there are about 5-10 things tied for first. I'll name a few:
1. First time the '92 Dream Team took to the court at the Tournament of the Americas in Portland. (I was behind bench in pre-game, looked up and saw them break from the huddle to take first jump ball. As the players peeled off their warm-ups, I nearly fainted when I saw the names on the jersey's and "USA" across the front.

2. Boston Garden and Chicago Stadium - Two great places to see games, Tough places to work, as the buildings grew old and out of date. I was so fortunate to witness basketball history. And, as much as I love NYC's Madison Square Garden, those two buildings will always be my favorites. The loudest crowd in sports history at Chicago Stadium. The hot summer nights at the '84 and '85 NBA Finals at the Boston Garden. The final game in Boston when the Celtics staged the 'legendary' fast break ceremony ... I stood there watching the likes of Sam Jones, KC, Satch, Havlicek, Heinsohn to Russell to Bird - for the final basket - it was just chilling.

3. Any and all times spent - with Earvin "Magic" Johnson - who might be the best ever - James Worthy, the ultimate "Big Game" player, Larry Bird, Bill Walton and the whole Celtics family - like Jeff Twiss, who welcomed an NBA guy into the inner-circle; Joe Dumars and Matt Dobek stand out at Detroit; and of course, Charles Barkley. On the Ramblas in Barca or anywhere. Chuck is the best.

4. Any post game - every Finals from '83 on.... When the work was done, the final story sent, (Brian) McIntyre would pass me an ice cold beer and say - "T, we fooled 'em again - another game under the belt!"

In years working with the photographers - what was the importance of photography? One word comes to mind: HUGE.

The photography of our game is HUGE. So, so important. The preparation. Capturing the image. Timing. Transmitting on deadline.

I learned a lot by just watching and listening. While we worked all game long to try to make all NBA events a great place to work for media, I always had a spot in my heart for the hard work and dedication of the photo corps. The magazine photographers, the dailies, the wires services, the assistants, the technicians, all of the guys who work the games every night, then have to adjust to the more crowded conditions as the Playoffs progress. Not easy.

I always tried to listen, be fair. Just to be a friend of the working guy. Over the years, so many of the photographers put some trust in us to try to make it work. They knew I would be a sounding board. They knew we would try our best.

I love Black and White photography and portraits, as much as I love the art of capturing the action in game in the Year 1980 or 2007. The images last a lifetime.

Fun, funny stories? Almost as many fun, funny stories as I have fondest memories.

A few come right to mind:

At the Sydney Olympics Andrew Gaze of Australia, a good friend, carried his countries' flag into the Olympic Stadium for the Opening Ceremonies. To me, that is probably the greatest honor in any sport, ahead of having your number being retired or even an induction into a Hall of Fame. It just doesn't get any better than that. Andrew had the honor on his native soil … just think about that!

I spotted a tremendous still photo at the Olympic Main Press Centre and asked the wonderful people at the AFP wire service for a courtesy copy, promising that it would go directly to Andrew Gaze.

The photo was TREMENDOUS. Andrew, with a terrific smile on his face and the support of his country parked comfortably on his back, waving the flag from side to side. The photo was at the perfect angle, lit nicely as evening turned into night and it showed just a bit of motion in the flag.

I met Andrew in the Athletes Village the next day or so, and pulled the photo out from an envelope. He was speechless. Tears welled in our eyes. Not a word was said. The silence was, indeed, golden.

Then he hugged me so damn hard, he nearly broke my back!

Lastly - a couple fond memories of the NBA Finals:

As so many of you know, it's always a bit of a mess with the NBA Finals Trophy ceremony. Players going everywhere, music beating our eardrums until they resemble the confetti dropping from the rafters.

At the '99 Finals, we were working the usual post-game behind the scenes, when I realized that Tim Duncan and David Robinson were in different zip codes on the small stage being placed on the floor of the Garden. The Commissioner presented the O'Brien trophy and then the MVP, and a bit of order came to the scene.

I ran around back, grabbed David Robinson by the ankle and shin and asked him to grab the Finals Trophy while Tim Duncan had the MVP and to enjoy the moment together and look at each other- front and center.

"David, it's the kind of shot that will last forever," I remember saying, "Plus the papers need something for page 1 and the magazines need it to go on the cover!!"

He could barely hear me, but he leaned down, looked me square in the eye and said, "Okay!"
The Admiral took it from there. And we got this shot.

Fast forward a few years later - 2003 - in what would be David Robinson's last game as an NBA player.

The series ended in San Antonio. Same post-game frenzy, same situation - except with the hysteria of it being on a home court. More family. More craziness.

Almost the same exact scenario played out. I shook my head, saying - I can't believe this is happening, again?

Tim Andree was with the NBA at the time and he looked at me - "What's wrong, T?"

I ran the same play. Ran around back. Somehow, got a hold of David Robinson, again. And said; "David? Remember what you did with the trophies with Duncan at the Garden back in '99?" "Yeah?" he said."

"Well, I need you to do it again. Except this time. It's twice as important because this is it, my man."

Tony Parker heard me, and he knew exactly what I was talking about. He turned and shouted to his teammates to help.

I ran around to the front, knowing it was going to be pretty good and I waited. Saw The Admiral in motion. Saw the trophies changing hands. The NBA's Tim Andree came up along side me and I remember saying - "Watch this."

It was a moment of pure JOY and satisfaction and I knew the shot below was in the books for all to use and for all NBA fans to see. It ran worldwide - every wire, every paper, every yearbook, every DVD cover - you name it. And, it will always be a fond, vivid, crystal clear memory of working an NBA Finals - of the Spurs' championships and my favorite image of the great David Robinson.

This is what makes it all worthwhile.

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