Recent Olympic gold medalists and NBA stars Chris Paul, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade headlined pairings with stars of the PBA Saturday night at AMF Winston-Salem Lanes in the inaugural Chris Paul PBA Celebrity Invitational presented by the brands of Ebonite International. The event will air on ESPN on Oct. 19 at 1 p.m. EDT.
The event was held in conjunction with the Third annual Chris Paul’s Winston-Salem Weekend, the signature fundraising event of the CP3 Foundation. Paul, who grew up in Winston-Salem and was an All-American at Wake Forest, is an All-Star guard on the New Orleans Hornets. All of the proceeds from the Invitational and the weekend-long charity event will support a variety of charities and programs in Winston-Salem and New Orleans.
The Invitational will kick off the 2008-09 50th anniversary PBA Tour season next month. It marks the first time professional athletes from other sports partnered with professional bowlers for a bowling event with a dedicated telecast.
Pairings at the Invitational were Paul with 2007-08 PBA Player of the Year Chris Barnes; Miami Heat guard Wade with 2005-06 PBA Player of the Year Tommy Jones; Cleveland Cavaliers forward James with Jason Couch; Memphis Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay with 2006-07 PBA Player of the Year Doug Kent; and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant with Mitch Beasley.
“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,” Paul said. “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.”
The other NBA players and PBA bowlers shared Paul’s enthusiasm in being a part of the special charity event.
“Chris Paul is a great friend of mine and it’s always good to come out for a good cause and have fun,” James added.
“I was really pumped; it was great bowling with my partner (James),” Couch said. “I watched him play in high school and now in the NBA. I’m a huge NBA fan. It was an honor to be a part of this special event. It was huge for me to meet these guys, let alone bowl with them.”
Other activities during the weekend included a Ludacris concert, Banker’s Ball, Youth Basketball Clinic and Celebrity Pro-am bowling tournament featuring stars like singer Bryan McKnight, Indiana Pacers guard Jarrett Jack and New Orleans Hornets coach and former NBA great Byron Scott. The weekend concluded with a church service on Sunday that had about 700 attendees.
“It was amazing to meet my all-time role model, Byron Scott,” Couch said. “He’s still got it (making five half-court shots during the basketball clinic).”
Be sure to tune in Oct. 19 at 1 p.m. EDT for the telecast to see who wins!