Houston Rockets point guard Chris Paul is known for scoring major success on the basketball court: He’s racked up career achievements like being a nine-time All Star and being ranked third in NBA history with a career average of 9.9 assists per game. Forbes even ranked him the ninth highest paid basketball player in 2017.
But the athlete also plays another surprising sport: bowling. Paul calls the game his “other passion. ”
In 2012, Paul founded L.A.X., a Los Angeles team in the Professional Bowlers Association’s PBA League. The team consists of five players, including PBA champion Jason Belmonte, who currently holds 17 titles.
So why Paul’s love for pins, strikes and spares? The 32-year-old says he got it from his parents, especially his dad. Paul fondly remembers his childhood in North Carolina spent at the bowling alley.
“My dad was a part of a bowling league, so me and my brother would sit in these smoky bowling alleys, getting the best french fries you’ve ever had in your life,” Paul tells CNBC Make It about himself and his sibling C.J. Paul.
“As I got older, I think it was my senior year in high school and my brother’s sophomore year in college, my parents got us bowling balls for Christmas,” he adds.
“We were so excited. My bowling ball was red, white and blue. It looked like the old ABA style basketball. And my brother’s was brown, and it had the number 23 on it and Michael Jordan’s signature,” he recalls.
Since joining the NBA, Paul has been able to meet who he calls “great” bowlers like Norm Duke and Pete Weber. Besides owning a bowling team, Paul has been hosting a popular annual charity bowling tournament, which draws other athletes like Rockets player James Harden and former NFL star Terrell Owens to the lanes. For two consecutive years, Paul has won the doubles title in the celebrity invitational.
Proceeds from the tournament benefit Paul’s non-profit, the Chris Paul Family Foundation, which “strives to positively impact individuals and families by leveling the playing field in education, sports and life.” Recently, the foundation held a prom dress giveaway, and annually gives two scholarships to his alma mater, Wake Forest University, to students from Forsyth Country, North Carolina.
It’s no secret that Paul is a star on the basketball court (other career highlights include winning gold medals with Team USA at the 2008 and 2012 summer Olympic Games). But with bowling, he’s still got goals.
“I’ve never thrown a 300,” Paul says, referring to the score for a perfect game. “The highest I’ve ever bowled is a 256.
“I couldn’t imagine being in the 10th frame with 11 strikes thrown and getting up there to throw the 12th strike,” he says. “I’ve never had that feeling. Would like that feeling, but I would much rather have to throw a free throw than have to throw that strike,” says Paul.
“If I bowl a 300,” adds Paul, “everyone’s going to know about it.”
And bowling, Paul says, does have one benefit basketball doesn’t: longevity.
“I [have] a 79-year-old great uncle who still bowls like three, four days a week,” Paul says. “Basketball? Not so much. I’m not going to be hoopin’ when I’m 79 years old, you can cancel that.”
By Sara Berger | CNBC.com