About a week and a half back, I got a ticket to attend the ESPN taping of Chris Paul’s annual celebrity bowling event. Well, here’s my big shiny recap of the day, complete with pictures. Be warned, though, since this is going to be on TV, I can’t tell you who wins. But believe me when I say the ending was about as exciting as you can get in bowling.
Upon my arrival at Harrah’s Hotel to catch the shuttle to the event, I immediately see Ludacris wander out (on the phone) and stand right next to where I am. He’s wearing sunglasses and a red leather jacket with his name stitched on it. (I tweet: “Ten minutes ago I was standing right beside Ludacris. He DEFINITELY is not tall. He may be shorter than me.”) Jack Del Rio, coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, was also there to bowl, as well as LaMarr Woodley and Hines Ward of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Tweet: “Am standing beside Hines Ward and LaMarr Woodley. I guess they are football ppl or something. They’re not very tall.”) I’m not sure what my strange obsession with celebrity height is. It just seems that every time I meet someone I expect them to be tall, and they’re not. Haha.
Everyone was waiting around for Chris Paul to arrive. Which he did, quite ironically, as I was leaning on a column in the hotel lobby tweeting on my Blackberry about how none of the celebrities were tall. He literally strolled through my field of vision about two feet away. It will probably not come as a shock to you that he is not tall, either. Chris Paul is wearing a Yankees cap and a pair of navy and orange Nikes. I immediately decide to start an obnoxious Twitter rumor about him signing with the Knicks.
We hopped on the shuttles to the event (I was on the one with the Hornets people and PBA people, not the celebrities), which was held on the Belle Chase Naval Base. The audience was basically all servicemen and women, in uniform, and some of them brought their kids. The minute we got there I realized A) the place was really, really small, and B) I was sitting in the front row. I was definitely going to be on TV at some point. Yuck. I pulled my stuff out of my bag and began to furtively tackily do my makeup. Meanwhile, the celebrities and the PBA bowlers they were matched up with started to warm up, as the ESPN crew gave instructions to the crowd.
This was the first TV taping of anything I’ve ever been to. I can tell you that it was mostly three things: 1) Hot, 2) Long, and 3) Late. Everything was late. It started late. It ended late. Mostly this was due to the “commercial breaks” they built into it, even though it wasn’t live. So the guy would get on the loudspeaker and tell people they had ten minutes to get food or go to the bathroom. And whenever he did this, the entire audience would– you guessed it– get up. And then it took forever to get everyone back in their seats and continue with the tournament. The event started with a play-in round between Jack Del Rio and LaMarr Woodley to see which of them would be on the fourth team in the main tournament. (I’m not sure that part is going to be televised.) But after that, we didn’t get to take any more pictures, so as not to spoil how it all turns out. Yes, I know who wins, BUT I’M NOT GOING TO TELL YOU. Muahahaha… Chris Paul, however, has never won his own tournament, which, considering the supercompetitor that he is, must really really irk him, so I can tell you he was gunning for it.
One of my favorite moments involved little CP, Chris Paul’s baby son who was sitting with his parents two rows behind me. At one point, Chris was about to bowl, and little CP starts loudly going, “Da-da! Da-da!” The whole place was silent, so everyone heard him. Chris turned around and gave him a smile and a little wave. Then he bowled a strike. It was super, super cute. My other favorite moment was when Hines Ward dived down the lane on his stomach after making a really big shot. The guys were being goofy and making it fun to watch.
The only other Hornet who made an appearance was Peja, who came for a bit with his five-year-old son. He actually sat right behind me, which is a nice way of saying his knees were in my back because it is really hard to sit on bleachers when you’re 6-10. This is the point in the broadcast where you will definitely see me, because they do a close-up of Peja and put his name up on the screen. And lo, there I will be, trying to look like I’m not looking at myself on the screen across the way. Chris Paul came up and sat behind me and talked to Peja for a bit. Peja was mentioning a present CP had gotten his son for Christmas, I think, and saying his son wasn’t really into basketball (he knows that his dad plays but that’s about it) but ever since then he talks about Chris Paul. Aw. Peja and his son, by the way, do not speak in English to each other.
I did get introduced to and shake hands with both of them. Chris Paul was his usual polite self. I mentioned I had met him before when I won a video contest, and he said, “Oh, that’s right, the MVP video.” (I think this is more a function of there being only one video contest in the last 3 years than Chris Paul having an OMG AMAZING MEMORY, so don’t get too excited. Haha.) I was sitting right in front of the whole Paul family and friends contingent, and they were all very nice.
Afterward there was a reception at Harrah’s Hotel. We chatted with some fans, random people, and Hornets employees. I had an entertaining conversation with one of the biggest name-droppers I have ever met (seriously, this guy deserved an award). Hines Ward and LaMarr Woodley amusingly parked themselves at the bar and made themselves the center of the party, chatting and taking pictures with just about everyone who came up to get a drink. They also kept pushing pineapple juice and vodka (ew!) on people. I have one funny celebrity story from that night, and here it is: I went up to the bar to grab myself a drink. After declining the pineapple and vodka, I mentioned that I was going to have one drink, because I had to work the next day. It was only 9:30 at that point. Hines asked me what I did for a living, that I had to be up at 6:30 AM for. I told him, and he informed me he was going to order the perfect drink for me. He turned away for a second, and then turned back to me with…. a bottle of water. I said, “Wait, did you just cut me off?” Him: “Yup.” Other appearances at the party included local artist Amanda Shaw and Danny Glover, who strolled in in a long trench coat and had everyone excited, even Chris Paul.
The event will air on ESPN on Super Bowl Sunday. I recommend watching or DVR-ing if you like:
- actual PBA bowling
- Chris Paul
- glimpses of Ticktock6 looking goofy on national TV
- exciting endings that go down to the very last frame
Below the cut, a gallery of pictures from the event (they’re big, so Scary Loading Time Warning). Huge thanks to Matt of Storm Surge Photography. Please contact him and not me if you’d like to use any of them on your site: