An interview with Chris Paul


    PBA Interview

     Professional basketball players, led by NBA All-Star and avid bowler Chris Paul, will compete on another form of hardwood this weekend as he matches up with professional bowler Chris Barnes for the inaugural Chris Paul PBA Celebrity Invitational presented by the brands of Ebonite International which will be airing on ESPN Oct. 19th.

    The Invitational is the first time professional athletes from other sports will partner with professional bowlers for a bowling event with a dedicated telecast.

    In a media teleconference on Wednesday, Sept. 17th, Paul, New Orleans Hornets Point Guard and Olympic Gold medalist, spoke about this weekend's event to benefit Charity in Winston-Salem and to kick off the 2008-09 PBA season.

    Steve Brener: We're thankful to have Chris Paul, gold medalist, with us today, in regards to the great Chris Paul's Winston-Salem weekend, and the inaugural Chris Paul PBA Celebrity Invitational Presented by the Brands of Ebonite International. This event, part of Paul's CP3 Foundation, will be televised on ESPN on October 19th. The event, the Chris Paul invitational, will take place at the AMF Major League Lanes in Winston-Salem this Saturday, and it's going to kick off the 2008-'09 50th anniversary Denny's PBA Tour season. It's also marking the first time professional athletes from other sports will partner with pro bowlers for a bowling event with a dedicated telecast.

    The three former PBA Player of the Year winners, including the current Player of the Year, Chris Barnes, who will be teaming up with Mr. Paul, will make up the field. Barnes, Tommy Jones, Jason Couch, Doug Kent and Mitch Beasley. Barnes, Jones and Couch and Kent are also among the 50 greatest players in PBA history as announced recently in celebration of the PBA's 50th anniversary season.

    Without further ado, I'd like to welcome Chris to our conference call. Chris, why don't you tell us, I presume you're getting your game back in shape. Did you have a chance to bowl in Beijing at all?

    Chris Paul: I didn't get an opportunity to bowl in Beijing, but ever since I got home I've been trying to bowl as much as possible.

    Steve Brener: How did you start your love of bowling and how did you get involved in bowling?

    Chris Paul: Man, since I was a young kid, my dad used to take me and my brother to the bowling alley with him all the time. I think it may have been my senior year of high school, a Christmas gift from my parents. Me and my brother started to go bowl a lot, and for Christmas my parents got me a bowling ball that looked like the old ABA style basketball. It was red, white and blue. And they got my brother a bowling ball that was brown that had Michael Jordan's signature on it.

    Steve Brener: What has been the highest game that you've ever bowled?

    Chris Paul: 256, I believe.

    Steve Brener: Wow. Have you played with Chris Barnes before?

    Chris Paul: I have. I have. Last summer I actually had an opportunity to go to some of the women's finals. It was in Reno. And I also had an opportunity to go out to Milwaukee to (USBC) headquarters to see all the different lane patterns, and got a few tips while I was there, too.

    Steve Brener: That should probably help you in the competition come Saturday night. Why don't you tell us about the other events that are going to be happening this weekend in your Winston-Salem weekend benefiting your foundation, and also tell us some of the athletes that are going to be in town, also taking you on in bowling instead of basketball.

    Chris Paul: Yeah, this is my third weekend, my third weekend since I've been in the NBA. It's funny because so many people know me for bowling rather than basketball, especially on the NBA circuit. I know that whenever we play against the Pistons, right before jump ball, Rasheed Wallace always tells me he wants to bowl against me.

    This weekend consists of giving back to the community. Tomorrow night, Thursday, we have a concert. Ludacris is going to headline. And Friday morning we start with a day of service, where we're giving back to the Boys & Girls Clubs, Special Olympics, Feed the Children, and a gala Friday night. Saturday morning is a free (basketball) clinic for about 100 kids, and Saturday afternoon is when the bowling starts.

    I've been truly blessed to have a lot of guys who have come out over the years, and this year with the Olympics, I also have a few guys that are coming. Rudy Gay will be in, Jarrett Jack, Muggsy Bogues, LeBron James, Speedy Claxton, Coach Byron Scott from my team, Mo Peterson with my team, Dwyane Wade is coming in, and a few other guys, so I'm excited.

    Steve Brener: Why don't we throw it open to questions from the media to give them a little time with Chris. Go ahead.

    Question: Tell me what it means to you to give back. When you put together a bowling event like you have and when it's going to be on ESPN and your weekend in Winston-Salem when you don't have a ticket that's above $20, and just what does it mean to you to give back to that community? And also, I heard that you were trying to get something here in New Orleans but the hurricane situation canceled that. I've got a second question after that just about training camp in general. Why is it important to you to give back to the community?

    Chris Paul: Man, it's very important to me to give back to the community because it's something that I don't feel obligated to do. It's something that I do because I enjoy it. I think my family enjoys it. It gives me an opportunity to have a weekend of fun with everybody who's made all these wonderful things that I have done and accomplished possible.

    I think I'm really excited about the concert because everyone goes to concerts and sees different people perform all the time, and the tickets are always so expensive. With the concert, there's no ticket that's over $20. And that was done on purpose, so that everyone could come out and see the performance.

    With the event in New Orleans we're trying to put together, if not for bad weather we would have done it this year. But New Orleans is my family. It's my other family, just like my hometown is. I want to be able to give back to them just as much, also.

    Question: This is kind of like your last event, and this is the culmination of just what a great year it's been for you with your event there in Winston-Salem. Talk about how excited you are that next week you'll be starting training camp in New Orleans.

    Chris Paul: Man, I can't wait. I cannot wait. Like I miss New Orleans so much. I miss my teammates, I miss the season. I'm excited. I talked to Tyson Chandler for a while yesterday and I've been talking to David West and some of those guys. You know, either Sunday night or Monday morning I'll be back in New Orleans.

    Steve Brener: I just want to point out that Chris' foundation does benefit charities not only in Winston-Salem but in New Orleans, and I have one other question before throwing it back to Mary. Chris, do you have any plans to sing at the concert?

    Chris Paul: I have no plans for singing at the concert. Don't worry about that. You don't have to worry about seeing me on YouTube or nothing.

    Question: The event that we're talking about here sounds like it's a labor of love, but it is something that's required some time and effort on your part. The Olympics obviously were a big commitment of time and effort and probably sweating out a little bit what was going on with New Orleans' weather. Can you talk about this off-season and what distractions or concerns you might have had up to and including the hurricane?

    Chris Paul: I'm very fortunate and blessed to have a group of people around me who are always very involved in every function that I have. You know, there was many an evening of phone calls; Chris, do you think this person can come, what do you think about this, how should we do the day of service. It's probably going to be a crazy weekend, but I just hope everything goes smoothly.

    And this summer has been a whirlwind. My best friend, he got married the day before we left to go to Vegas to get ready for (Team) USA. Upon coming back, me and my brother flew from China to Vegas for Jordan photo shoot, and then Vegas to New Orleans, and then upon landing in New Orleans we found out about Gustav. We had no clue about it. The next day we had to leave and had our fingers crossed about that storm. Then our fingers crossed about Ike. It's just been an unbelievable whirlwind.

    Question: You got out. How much of you stayed behind when you thought about people and what they had gone through there before with the hurricane?

    Chris Paul: Oh, man, so much of me. The materialistic things you can replace, but the people you can't. It's always, you know, so tragic, and the craziest thing is Hurricane Katrina hit right before my rookie year. I had just been drafted to New Orleans, and I remember the devastation and how much it hurt me then, and I had just been drafted there.

    And now after living in New Orleans and knowing so many people there, in '05 we were just getting introduced to each other, me and New Orleans. Now New Orleans is a part of me. Anything that happens there has really affected me.

    Question: A couple questions: One, with this event, this bowling event being on ESPN, it's obviously going to draw even more attention to the CP3 Foundation and your cause. Can you comment on what this means to you and what kind of impact you think it could have on your efforts?

    Chris Paul: Yeah. I think it means a lot. I'm so grateful to bowling, the U.S. Bowling Congress, everyone who has made this possible. Once again, this gives me an opportunity to show a part of me and it also gives an opportunity for the world to see how big of a sport bowling is. I think a lot of times people see bowling as just something fun that you can go do on Friday night, Saturday night or something like that. But bowling is a competitive sport and something that I'm very, very involved in, and I love it. I love it. It's been a tough off-season trying to decide whether or not I want to train for basketball or train for bowling.

    Question: This is one instance where you and your NBA friends won't be the best players on the court. Can you explain how the pressure is going to be different for you in this situation?

    Chris Paul: There's going to be a lot of pressure. I'm nervous. And the thing about us is we're competitive. We're extremely, extremely competitive. You know, with guys like me, LeBron, D-Wade, you've got Chris Barnes up there, it doesn't matter what he's done in the past. If you ask one of us, we feel like we can still beat him, you know? We're just extremely competitive. I was actually talking to LeBron yesterday, and he was like, "Man, y'all not going to get me up there and make me look crazy."

    Question: I've covered the NBA for a long, long time, and I guess if people guessed how NBA players might spend their time athletically away from basketball, maybe they'd think, okay, socioeconomically, financially maybe they'd go out golfing with businessmen and CEOs and stuff like that. Bowling might not be the first thought. How rampant is bowling as a popular sport among the guys you know in the league? Would it help the NBA if more people sort of knew that? It has an image of sort of your working-man's, not-real-expensive, anybody-can-do-it kind of a sport.

    Chris Paul: Bowling is?

    Question: Yeah.

    Chris Paul: Yeah. There's a lot of guys who bowl in the NBA, and I think it's more than a lot of people realize. A lot of guys do play golf and things like that, which is also a very, very fun sport, also. I don't play too much golf. If I get some downtime, you can usually find me at the bowling alley.

    To think about it, I don't know, you said should more people know about it?

    Question: Yeah. The NBA likes to promote a lot of what you guys do away from the league. Bowling is one thing we haven't heard that much about.

    Chris Paul: I definitely think it is something that can get out more because you'd be surprised how many guys really, really bowl. My team, we are -- my whole team went bowling when we were in Seattle this past season. I mean, I took my bowling ball on the flight with us and the whole team went bowling. Peja had a bowling event in New Orleans. Julian Wright this past season, he went bowling almost every day after practice. He's a really good bowler. He went just about every day, every day after practice. There's a lot of guys that got their own bowling balls.

    After D-Wade came to my event the first year, he really got into it. And guys really start to see how fun bowling is and how competitive it is, and all it takes is a drive up to the bowling alley.

    Question: Who's the best bowler among NBA players that you know of besides yourself?

    Chris Paul: Other guys that can bowl pretty good, I know Julian Wright is a good bowler, Dwight Howard says he's a good bowler, Gilbert Arenas, I've bowled with him before, he's a pretty good bowler, Elton Brand. I need to see Rasheed Wallace; he said he is. And Michael Redd said he's a really good bowler.

    Question: I wanted to ask you how you felt with bowling with Jimmy Kimmel. They split it up on ABC-TV. They had it as an intro to an NBA playoff game and then he had some more of it on his show later on. How did that go?

    Chris Paul: That went really well. Jimmy was a lot of fun. We went bowling right over by the studio. You know, Jimmy almost won, but I couldn't let him do that.

    Question: Yeah, Jimmy is quite a bowler, he's really into it. I know his family bowls, also. He mentioned that, and they have shown it on TV there.

    Chris Paul: Yeah, he really loves to bowl, and that was part of why we did that with the show.

    Question: Yeah, I remember one time he had his aunt bowling with his father, he had actually written about recently, who actually bowls backwards. He walks up to the line with his back to the pins.

    Chris Paul: Does he hit pins?

    Question: Yeah, he actually hits them. It's hard to believe he bowls that way, and he actually beat his aunt that way on the Jimmy Kimmel show. Are you going to be doing some more of that with Kimmel in the future to give basketball and bowling more exposure and yourself?

    Chris Paul: Maybe. Maybe that's something we'll definitely look into, see if we can keep it going.

    Question: Yeah, maybe get some of the other NBA players out there to join him with you.

    Chris Paul: Yeah, if possible.

    Question: My first question for you is you're on the Nike Team Jordan. You have your own show, very prestigious. So I want to know what your bowling shoe looks like. Do you have your own Nike bowling shoe?

    Chris Paul: Yes, I had a bowling shoe that they made for me last year at my event, but this year I've got a nice little Jordan bowling shoe that they make for me.

    Question: And you talked about your first bowling ball that looked like the old ABA ball. What does your present bowling ball look like?

    Chris Paul: I've got too many now.

    Question: Do you have a favorite?

    Chris Paul: Man, probably my little Messenger 300, because at the time when I had that red, white and blue, it was a plastic bowling ball and it was a straight ball that you throw straight.

    But now I'm into the different types of bowling balls that hook more. I've gotten into it a lot more since then.

    Question: And that doesn't mess up your hand-in-the-cookie-jar jump shot?

    Chris Paul: No, actually I'm pretty serious, so I actually have a little piece of black tape that I wrap around my thumb before I bowl because when I first started bowling, it used to rub my thumb kind of raw. So now I use the little black tape that the professionals use.

    Question: We talked about how a lot of folks don't realize how many NBA guys are into bowling. We think maybe an N-1 mix tape style bowling tour could help promote the sport. What do you think?

    Chris Paul: You mean like the bowlers going on a tour?

    Question: Right on. What do you think? Give bowling a little street cred, right?

    Chris Paul: That would be crazy right there. That would be crazy. I would love to see how that worked out. But the bowlers got (trick shots)-- Sean Rash was at the Dwyane Wade event I just attended, and those guys got a lot of trick shots. I think that's probably what they should do, send those guys on tour and let them do all the trick shots in bowling that they have.

    Question: Do you have any trick shots?

    Chris Paul: Yeah, I have a few. I usually show a couple of them during the weekend with some assistance from guys like Chris Barnes.

    Question: I have one more question for you. When you score baskets, the PA announcer gives the old CP3. I'm wondering, bowling three strikes in a row is a turkey; do we get a little CP3 Turkey? What happens when you get a strike? As long as it's going to be announced on ESPN air, we need to know what you'd like your call to be.

    Chris Paul: Hopefully they'll just do what they do in New Orleans. They've got the little "whoo" whenever I score. So hopefully they'll do that on TV whenever I get a strike.

    Question: Two more questions: What is the biggest enjoyment you get? Like a day of service in Winston-Salem, how do you feel about that, and do you think that could even be broader for you in upcoming years, or is that an event that you like kind of the way it is?

    Chris Paul: I think that may be the event that I love the most because it's an opportunity to give back to the kids and feed the children, also a lot of adults. When you get an opportunity to put a smile on these people's faces, you don't think about anything else, anything else in the world at that time, except for the fact that you're helping someone out. The day of service starting out with the Boys & Girls Clubs and the Special Olympics and all those different type things, I think these are things that those kids will remember for a lifetime.

    I know that if I had that opportunity when I was a kid, it's something I would have always cherished.

    Question: How are you holding up physically since the Olympics? I know Brian said something about handling you with care. How do you feel from a physical standpoint?

    Chris Paul: Yeah, I don't know, I think once I get going I'll be fine. I can't believe it, but I actually took a little bit of time off the Monday after I arrived with my brother and my dad, and I've been going to the gym and shooting stuff. But this has probably been my toughest summer because it's the longest I've ever been, including the playoffs, and then right into the Olympics. I'll be fine once I get there, get all my teammates and everybody there. We're on a mission, you know what I mean, so no excuses.

    Question: I was just wondering, you were mentioning playing basketball for the Olympic team. How do you feel about bowling becoming an official Olympic sport? It's affiliated with them, but it's never been an Olympic sport even though we've tried over the years.

    Chris Paul: I really think bowling could be an Olympic sport. There's so many other sports already in the Olympics, and I'm surprised to hear that bowling isn't, you know? To me that's a very big sport and it's competitive. Hopefully they can incorporate bowling into the Olympics soon, very soon.

    Question: Perhaps you can talk to the committee since you've played for the Olympic basketball team and see what you can do for bowling like that.

    Chris Paul: Yeah, maybe.

    Question: Also, about cross-referencing bowling with other sports, I know NFL players here, and I've covered them in Tampa where I'm calling from, the Buccaneers bowl and the Rays and other basketball players and so forth, we had a tournament here that Toby Hall sponsored in Tampa where we had players from different sports actually compete for charity together. Do you think it would be good to promote tournaments like that with athletes from the different major sports bowling?

    Chris Paul: Yeah, I know a lot of different guys bowl throughout all other sports, from baseball, basketball, hockey, football. You know, it's great that guys do all different types of events at different times. I know it would be extremely tough to get everyone together to do one event. When football is playing, at the beginning we're not playing. Then when we're playing, football is not playing. And then baseball is not playing. So it's very seasonal.

    Question: Yeah, it is a scheduling problem at times. But when you all get together it's very useful, a good way to promote bowling.

    Chris Paul: Right.

    Steve Brener: We want to thank Chris for his time. I hope everybody gets a chance to either watch the event on ESPN October 19th or attend the event this Saturday in Winston-Sales, the Chris Paul PBA Celebrity Invitational Presented by the brands of Ebonite International.

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