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Chris Paul Q&A: WNBA Finals, J.R. Smith's golf game, celebrity bowling on Fox

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Chris Paul spoke about reaching a vaunted bowling milestone and ended with a future goal.

"If I could ever have 300," Paul began, "you know what? That’s one of my goals. I got to do that."

The Phoenix Suns guard didn't bowl a 300 at his Chris Paul Family Foundation PBA Celebrity Invitational that will air Sunday on Fox (check local listings, either before or NFL games depending on market). Following a one-year pandemic hiatus, it's the 11th time the event has been held and the first in Phoenix, Arizona.

"I’ve always said bowling is something so many people can do," Paul told USA TODAY Sports on Sunday.

Introduced at a young age by his father, Charles Paul Sr., while growing up in North Carolina, the game of fallen pins has remained in the 11-time All-Star's life.

"We were always in bowling alleys," Paul said.

Charles Paul took part in this year's tournament, and his presence made it even more special to his son.

"The fact that the man who’s even responsible for having this as part of my life to see him in the competition is cool," said Paul.

All five celebrities are paired with Professional Bowling Association pros to compete for the CP3 Trophy. The three other celebrities (Paul and his father count as two) are comedian Hannibal Burress, ex-"Bachelorette" star Rachel Lindsay and NFL Hall of Famer Terrell Owens. In addition to the main tournament, the five celebs will compete in the Super Clash, in which the low score (one attempt each) is eliminated after each round until one is left standing. Nelly won the Clash in 2011, as has Los Angeles Dodgers star Mookie Betts (2017), who also won the invitational in 2019.

"I’m competitive in anything and everything I do, especially this," Paul said. "I don’t want to give it away what happens, but it’s intense."

(The event took place earlier this month at Bowlero Christown in Phoeniz.)

To help lighten the mood, Buress cracked jokes all day, Paul said. Fox Sports host Rob Stone called the event, and he told USA TODAY Sports the father-son dynamic will grab viewers.

"It's that competitive gene," Stone said.

Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul during the first quarter aghast the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center.
Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul during the first quarter aghast the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center.

Paul also answered questions about his appearances at Phoenix Mercury WNBA playoff games, his friend and college sensation J.R. Smith and advice for new NBA Players' Association president C.J. McCollum.

Questions and answers have been lightly edited for clarity.

USA TODAY: What was the WNBA Finals game like?

CP: "Man, it’s fun. It’s unbelievably so fun. I know some of the women that play for the Mercury but I know so many of the women who play for the Sky: Candace Parker, Diamond DeShields, Dee Brown who was my Clippers assistant coach, his daughter (Lexie Brown) plays. (Courtney) Vandersloot, because she used to be mentored by John Stockton and I used to be like how the hell did she get that? (Allie) Quigley, she beat me in H-O-R-S-E (a remote event during the pandemic).

"For me, it’s my 17th year in the NBA, it’s my first time I’m on a team that has a sister team, like a ‘W’ team. It’s been the coolest thing ever. When I got back here for the season, I went to the gym to get some shots up. I was shooting on one court and DT (Diana Taurasi) was shooting on the other court. … One of those things I’ll never forget."

USA TODAY: Is Devin Booker trying his hand at photography with that camera?

CP: "I don’t think people realize a lot of us athletes, we get a lot of cool experiences. Sometimes the only way to remember it is to document it with pictures. So that’s what it was."

USA TODAY: J.R. Smith mentioned that you have been supportive of him going back to school and his golf game, what have you said to him?

CP: "Man, J is my brother man, for real for real. My rookie year, I got drafted to New Orleans and people forget it was just me and J.R. So J.R., he’s more than just a former teammate of mine, he’s family. We talk. We talk on the regular, especially with everything that I’m doing now. He’s down Greensville, right outside my hometown of Winston-Salem, so checking on him and making sure he’s good and making sure I’m giving him that encouragement because it’s always been like that."

USA TODAY: Is he all right after the bee incident?

CP: "Yeah, yeah (laughs) he’s all right, scared him to death though. Scared me to death too when I saw the video. He’s all right now. I think (former NFL wide receiver) Larry Fitzgerald told him the best thing he could tell him. He said, 'There ain’t never no bee hives in the fairway.' Stay in the fairway, he ain’t got to worry about that."

USA TODAY: How’s it been without the union responsibilities?

CP: "It’s a little different. I still have different calls here and there. You know, just helping when I can. Just trying to be an ear whenever C.J. (McCollum, the Portland Trail Blazers guard who replaced Paul as union president) or anybody else."

USA TODAY: What’s been your most important piece of advice for C.J.?

CP: "Just to trust yourself and trust that executive committee. Those guys put in so many hours and time week in and week out. You got to trust your work. Trust your instincts. I trusted all those guys on the (executive) committee, they made the best decisions for the league, for the players, as a whole."

Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Chris Paul talks WNBA Finals, J.R. Smith's golf game, bowling on Fox