It was easy to tell that the Third Annual Chris Paul’s Winston-Salem Weekend was a tremendous success. It featured a stellar NBA lineup of Chris Paul, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Rudy Gay, Kevin Durant, Julian Wright, Jarrett Jack, Morris Peterson, Josh Howard, Hornets Coach Byron Scott, Olympic Gold medalist LaShawn Merritt and Grammy Award winner Brian McKnight, among others.
The festivities began with a concert that featured Ludacris, Hot Stylez and Ray J. But the day following the concert is when the action truly began. Every minute was packed with events such as a Bankers Ball, youth basketball clinic, numerous youth community advocacy activities and, of course, a bowling tournament. The weekend ended with a community church service.
The official PBA event marked the first time professional bowlers and athletes paired together in a national telecast (ESPN is scheduled to air CP3’s PBA Invitational Oct. 19).
The three days centered around family, community and faith. The proceeds are distributed back to the community through the CP3 Foundation. I caught-up with Chris and others over the weekend, and they all gave the good news.
Chris, how important is this weekend to you?
Chris Paul: The events are very important. I love giving back to my community. This is my home, and I want to see Winston-Salem taken care of. We made ways for the concert to be affordable for everyone, a basketball clinic featuring some of the best basketball players and the bowling event that will have professional bowlers along with NBA bowlers as well. The NBA meets the PBA.
Are you the best bowler amongst your NBA friends?
Chris Paul: Yes I am. No one wants to admit it, but I am.
How important is it for you guys help-out Chris and the Winston-Salem community?
Jarrett Jack: It’s very important for me to because I am here to support Chris. We’ve battled on the court in the ACC and now in the NBA, so it’s time to show him some love. I know it means a lot for the kids to see us NBA players along with Brian McKnight along with the others involved. When I was growing up, I didn’t have this chance, so I’m glad I can help give back to the community. Also, I’m ready to show him and everyone else something at the bowling alley.
Rudy Gay: I’m ready to show them a little something as well at the bowling alley because I can bowl! But I’m glad to be here as well. Anytime I have the opportunity to give back to the community, it does me good. Me, Chris, Kevin and the rest of us are all cool on and off the court so it’s nothing like being around your friends at events like this.
Kevin Durant: I don’t think none of them can bowl as good as me, but we’ll talk about that later (laughs). But I feel good to come back and help Chris out in his foundation’s weekend, and I love to interact with the kids and let them get a taste of how it is in the NBA.
Byron Scott: It’s always important to give back to the community. Chris is doing a great job here in Winston-Salem and in New Orleans with helping the community and families. Chris is a great player on the court and off. It’s what you do off the court that really counts.
Dwyane Wade: It’s really fun to give back and interact with the community because a lot of people do not get the opportunity to even go to a game or see their favorite NBA players off of the basketball court. I’m having fun here, and I’m glad Chris invited me.
LeBron James: I’m glad to be here to support Chris and his foundation, and it meant a lot for me to come.
Brian McKnight: It feels great to be involved in a community event like this. It’s important for the children to see positive role models, and Chris has done a great job at putting this together.
Here, you’re on a court, but it’s in a bowling alley. How does that feel?
Rudy Gay: I like the feeling. I have more inside of me than basketball. I can roll a strike here which is equivalent to a dunk. (laughs)
Kevin Durant: It makes me feel good because it gives fans to see a different side of us. We are laid back and relaxed and like to have fun.
Julian Wright: I’m glad the fans get to come out and have a great time with us and see a different side other than basketball. I mean, you have three Olympic gold basketball players here in a community event. It can’t get any better than that!
Will the you bring this event up during the upcoming season?
Rudy Gay: Of course. I think I’m the best out here, and I’m going to remind everyone during the season. (laughs)
Kevin Durant: Rudy says he’s the best, but I don’t think that is true. (laughs). But I think I’m the king around here!
Chris Paul: I believe I’m the best bowler and everyone knows that, so I have nothing to prove. (laughs)
Chris, congrats on winning the gold medal at the Beijing Olympics. By the way, where is the medal?
Chris Paul: Thanks, and my mother has it. (Laughs) And everyone who wasn’t here, make sure you watch this on Oct. 19 on ESPN.
LeBron James and Jason Couch defeated Chris Paul and the 2007-08 PBA Player of the Year Chris Barnes in the championship. Click the thumbnails below for larger images from the tournament.