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By Steve Warns, AFIMSC Public Affairs
/ Published December 01, 2017
Capt. Michael Lyons, watching the Air Force beat the U.S. Marine Corps in the Armed Forces Tournament, suffered a broken hand during the loss to Navy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Steve Warns)
Capt. Michael Lyons of Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, defends against Navy during the Air Force's victory over Navy in the Armed Forces Tournament.
Lyons, a project manager with the Air Force Satellite Control Network at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, starred for the All-Air Force Team. He was the team’s leading scorer before he broke his hand against the U.S. Navy in the fourth game of the double round-robin tournament.
Lyons was fouled as he contested a shot and broke a bone between the middle and ring fingers on his right hand. He managed to make the foul shot and sat out the rest of the tournament.
Despite Lyons’ absence, the Air Force advanced to the championship game, where it lost to Army 95-85. Lyons also was playing with a torn labrum, yet averaged a tournament-high 19.8 points per game.
“He has a killer instinct,” said Air Force coach Capt. Scott Stucky, an education flight commander with Air Force ROTC Detachment 665 at the University of Cincinnati. “He can take his game to an entirely different level, and he’s completely confident in his abilities. That trickles down to the rest of the team.”
Here, Lyons talks about what it means to play basketball for the Air Force:
Why compete in basketball?
I grew up around basketball. My father used to coach my older sister, so every time that they went to practice I would just tag along. As I got older, my love for the game grew, and I was fortunate enough to be able to earn a spot to play for the Air Force.
What's your experience in basketball before the Air Force?
I played high school basketball in Virginia and earned the opportunity to play Division I ball at the Air Force Academy. At the Academy I was a three-time all-conference performer in the Mountain West Conference. I ended up leading the conference in scoring my senior year. After serving 3 1/2 years in the AF, I played under contract for the Orlando Magic's affiliate team (Erie Bayhawks) and was most recently drafted in the second round of the NBA G-League, in 2017, by the Los Angeles Lakers' affiliate team (South Bay Lakers)
Since competing in basketball for the Air Force, what have you gained from an athletic, military and personal perspective?
Athletically, I am definitely more in-shape. The rigorous training during training camp helped out in that department as well as playing in games. From a military perspective, I think that I've learned to be a better vocal leader. I've had a lot of experience playing basketball at a high level, so I felt like it was my duty to be more vocal and impart my knowledge on my teammates and help and encourage them to be the best that they can be. Personally, I've learned how to multitask much better. There were many days where I had to take care of my duties in my normal AF job such as calling into meetings and completing paperwork for other individuals while training camp and the tournament was going on.
What are you bringing back to your duty station by competing in basketball?
I think that I am able to communicate more effectively and have to confidence to do so now.
How is competing in basketball building your readiness and resiliency with your fellow Wingmen, your duty station and the Air Force as a whole?
I am a firm believer in a person's past experiences building a guide for the future. In competing for the AF, I've just gained another experience. There were many ups, downs, and obstacles along the way but my teammates and I were able be resilient and see it through to the end. We ultimately fell short in reaching our goal but that experience of failure is nothing but a guide for the future and how we will be resilient in building ourselves back up and reaching our goal next year. This is another story that I'll be able to tell other Airmen and I'll be able to share that through any situation, you can find the good in it and challenge yourself to be resilient and keep fighting.
For more information on the Air Force Sports program, click here.
Editor’s note: Athlete in Focus is a monthly series spotlighting U.S. Air Force athletes.