Paul’s bowling passion leads to PBA ownership

Clippers guard Chris Paul might not know how many points or assists he’s averaging this season, but he can tell you about the best game he ever bowled.

Bowling is Paul’s passion, a sport he’s been playing since he was in high school. Now he’s becoming a celebrity owner in the new Professional Bowlers Association League, which will compete in January at Thunderbowl Lanes in Detroit.

“My dad used to bowl in leagues all the time, and my family used to have bowling outings,” Paul said. “When I was in college, every Tuesday, me and my teammates and a bunch of friends used to go bowling.”

Paul is one of several sports celebrities who will be franchise owners in the league’s inaugural season. Others include former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis, Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley and former Cowboys and Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens. Comedian Kevin Hart is also a team owner.

The league will feature eight teams, with five PBA professionals on each team. Points will actually be accumulated from individual tournaments, and the entire schedule will be played over one week in Detroit and telecast on a delayed basis by ESPN. Paul is the owner of the Los Angeles franchise, currently a team with no nickname.

Although owners won’t compete, Paul might make a good case for himself. He takes the sport seriously and says he bowls several times a week in the offseason. He has a 265 game to his credit.

“I’m pretty good,” he said. “At least I think I am.”

Paul is so passionate about bowling that during the Olympics last summer in London, he tweeted, “Why isn’t bowling in the Olympics? It should be.”

“I believe it,” he said. “It’s a sport, a very competitive sport. A lot of people see it as a good night out with their friends where they can bowl and eat and drink, but it’s very competitive. If you look at all the sports at the Olympics, why not bowling?”

Bowling officials appreciate the kind words.

“When Chris makes a statement like that, it means a lot to the bowling industry,” said PBA commissioner Tom Clark. “We’re able to get behind that. When we can stand side by side with someone like Chris Paul, it makes us stronger.”

Paul includes PBA pros Chris Barnes, Norm Duke and Pete Webber among his friends. His franchise player is two-handed bowler Jason Belmonte of Australia.

Paul served as a spokesman for the US Bowling Congress for five years and is a founder of the new league. For the past four years, he has also hosted the annual Chris Paul PBA Celebrity Invitational to benefit his CP3 Foundation. Teammate Blake Griffin won the last event in January.

Paul and the other sports stars will give the league a necessary visibility, one that Clark hopes will help it gain wider acceptance among sports fans.

“One of bowling’s struggles is the idea that a lot of people out there don’t think it’s a sport,” he said. “When you have someone like Chris Paul say it is, no one wins an argument with him.”

On the lanes, he’s equally formidable.

“Some days, I’ll go out and bowl with my family, and some days it’s just me, my dad, my brother and a couple of my cousins,” he said. “But when we bowl, it’s for real. It ain’t just for fun.”