While NBA Superstar Chris Paul is busy leading his L.A. Clippers to an NBA championship run, he’ll be keeping one eye on the progress of his new L.A. X Professional Bowlers Association League team. The PBA League makes its debut with a live telecast of the first round Sunday at noon ET on ESPN from Thunderbowl Lanes in suburban Detroit.
Making up Paul’s L.A. X team are five-time Tour winner Jason Belmonte of Australia, PBA Hall of Famer and 33-time Tour winner Parker Bohn III of Jackson, N.J., six-time Tour winner Wes Malott of Pflugerville, Texas and Tour winners Andres Gomez of Colombia and Dave Wodka of Henderson, Nev.
“This is another extension for my passion for bowling,” said Paul, who is bringing a new sports franchise to his adopted hometown of Los Angeles. “It will be like owning a basketball or football team. It’s going to be a new perspective for me being an owner of a team and not a player on a team.”
Paul, an accomplished bowler who averages about 180, hosted his fifth annual PBA League All-Stars charity tournament at Lucky Strike LA live in Los Angeles earlier this month, an event he has won twice with Belmonte as his doubles partner.
“I’m going to rely on my good friend Jason (Belmonte) to be the leader on the lanes,” Paul said. “After having competed as a teammate with Jason I can tell he’s as competitive as I am. We’ll need that drive to beat the other teams who I can tell have some pretty hungry owners and players as well.”
Other teams and their owners making up the new PBA League are: Former NFL greats Jerome Bettis (Motown Muscle) and Terrell Owens (Dallas Strikers); sports icon Billie Jean King (New York City WTT KingPins); Pittsburgh Steelers all-pro linebacker LaMarr Woodley (Pittsburgh Jack Rabbits), Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams (Brooklyn Styles) and comedians Kevin Hart (Philadelphia Hitmen) and Chris Hardwick (Silver Lake Atom Splitters).
Like his owner, Belmonte likes his team’s chances.
“I have a really well-balanced team,” said Belmonte. “Everyone has TV experience and big-time tournament experience. I know everyone is going to be prepared.”
Four additional preliminary rounds of the PBA League will be taped by ESPN during the Detroit Winter Swing Jan. 26 and 27. The top four teams after the five PBA League preliminary rounds will advance to the PBA League Elias Cup Finals, named after PBA founder Eddie Elias, which will be contested at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis on Sunday, March 31 for telecast on Sunday, April 7 at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN.