BASKETBOWL CHALLENGE GIVES FANS AND PLAYERS A CHANCE TO INTERACT

Keystone Lanes in Norwalk, Calif. was transformed on Sunday. It went from a neighborhood bowling center to carnival-like atmosphere as the Clippers and a number of season-ticket holders and fans gathered for the 14th annual BasketBowl Challenge, which helps raise funds for the Los Angeles Clippers Foundation and helps build a bond between the team and its supporters.

“It’s a lot of fun,” point guard Chris Paul said. “Actually, this is my third time being a part of it and getting a chance to shake a lot of hands and actually see our fans who come out and support us every night. It’s all for a great cause. Everything benefits the Los Angeles Clippers Foundation.”

Paul is an avid bowler, but was unable to participate in the two-hour, two-game event because he is still nursing a sprained right thumb. That does not mean he was not heavily involved. Paul went through the entire bowling alley greeting fans and coaching up his teammates.

“Bowling is one of those things for me that I’ve done since I was in high school. It’s sort of my getaway and something fun I do with my family,” Paul said.

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It was certainly a family atmosphere on Sunday. Some lanes were equipped with bumpers for children to play, there was a mini donut machine, customized ice cream sandwich station, food from Outback Steakhouse, and a silent auction including a variety of Clippers-related items such as autographed basketballs or jerseys.

It was also competitive. Fans were allowed to challenge Clippers players in an attempt to knock down the most pins in one roll. And each lane was teamed with a player, coach or broadcaster with the best scores used to determine the overall winner.

“I really take pride in my bowling game and I’m probably the best on this team,” said Danny Granger, who participated in the team activity before playing his first game with the Clippers. “I was the best on my old team.”

Granger said his best score ever was between 270-272, but he did not reach that level on Sunday. He did, however, bowl a strike by throwing the ball between his legs with his right hand. Of course, Granger was showing off for the fans, which is truly who the event is for.

“The fans really make us,” Granger said. “They are why we do what we do. When we get a chance to interact with them, they get a really good kick out of it. Sometimes we might take it for granted because we do a lot of these events, but for the fans it’s really, really special.”

Rookie Reggie Bullock, who was also taking part in his first Basketbowl event agreed with Granger.

“It means a lot to me,” Bullock said. “I know this is the 14th year doing it, but it’s my first time as a rookie. It’s an honor to be able to go out and interact with the people that support our team and season ticket holders. So, I’m always glad to come out and do that.”

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