STAR POWER: Chris Paul PBA Celebrity Shootout Once Again Had Star Appeal
Assists are Chris Paul’s life. The five-time National Basketball Association All Star averages 10 assists per game, the third highest in NBA history. For bowling fans, however, Paul’s biggest assists come when he uses his vast celebrity to profess his love of tenpins to a much broader audience than bowling is accustomed to. And nothing exemplifies that affection like the annual Chris Paul PBA Celebrity Invitational.
For the fourth consecutive year, Paul enlisted the help of some A-list friends and PBA stars for a bowling event to benefit Paul’s CP3 Foundation. Since joining the NBA, Paul has devoted time, money and resources to promote education, health and social responsibility for kids through programs and partnerships with his foundation. The fourth annual celebrity invitational, which aired on ESPN on Super Bowl Sunday, featured eight stars of music, television and sports, including football’s Reggie Bush and Michael Strahan, Grammy nominated hiphop and R&B singer Ciara, TV stars Jesse Williams (Grey’s Anatomy) and Jerry Ferrara (Entourage), comedian Kevin Hart and Paul’s new Los Angeles Clippers teammate Blake Griffin.
A pair of celebrities teamed with PBA stars Ryan Shafer, Wes Mallot, Jason Belmonte and Pete Weber in the team competition, which Paul and Belmonte won each of the last two years. “I just think it’s odd that Chris has won his own tournament two years in a row, don’t you?” wondered Griffin, a 6-foot, 10-inch power forward. The event started with a Super Shootout, a one-ball, low-man-eliminated roll off between the celebrities. The final pitted the hyper-competitive Paul against Williams, with Williams stealing the trophy with a strike after Paul had posted an 8-count.
The team event would also leave Paul with the bitter taste of second place, as the trio of Weber, Griffin and the wrong-footed Ferrara squeaked out a 187-180 win. Belmonte doubled in the 10th, giving teammates Paul and Hart a chance at a three-peat, but Weber answered with a strike of his own to close out the match.
“I doubled to force Pete to strike,” said Belmonte. “Then he did what he does best, which is strike when he has to strike.” The biggest strike, of course, was for bowling. The event delivered fun and drama, as well as an estimated one million viewers on ESPN.