Russell Westbrook taught himself to bowl last summer.
Less than a year later, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s starting point guard has put purpose behind his newest passion.
Westbrook recently held his first celebrity bowling tournament in Oklahoma City, with proceeds going to the Oklahoma City Urban Youth Scholarship Fund.
And while this event was for a good cause, Westbrook made sure to let everyone know how good he is. Even while kidding around, Westbrook recorded strikes, showing off a jaw-dropping hook that starts left, drifts right and finishes in the gut for consistent strikes.
“It’s what I do in my off time,” Westbrook said. “Especially in the summer.”
Westbrook said he learned by watching others and asking for tips to perfect his own pitch. His personal best is a 279.
“A lot of guys pick up golf and other things,” Westbrook said. “I like to bowl.
On a damp Saturday evening in late March, Westbrook and most of his Thunder teammates took over AMF Windsor Lanes Bowling Center and entertained a crowd of roughly 150. Players shook hands, posed for pictures, signed autographs and, of course, talked trash to each other.
“Russell got his own shoes, his own ball, his own carrying bag and he’s still not better than me,” said Thunder forward Kevin Durant, who joked about giving up the NBA for the PBA.
Don’t fret, Thunder fans. Durant talks a much better game than he bowls.
Westbrook scored a 190. Let’s just say Durant was about 100 pins shy of his teammate.
At least Nenad Krstic had an excuse for his sub-100 performance.
“This is only like my third time bowling, so I think I’m doing pretty good,” he said.
Despite some of Westbrook’s teammates low scores, the event was a huge success. In addition to nearly the entire Thunder roster coming out in support, Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti was on hand, as well as assistant general manager Troy Weaver, a pair of Thunder Girls and, of course, Rumble the Bison.
Participating sponsors included Clear Channel, Brunswick, Norman Chrysler Jeep & Dodge, McDonald’s, Perry Broadcasting, the Skirvin Hilton an Mickey Mantle’s.
Westbrook expects the event to grow more and more each season.
“It’s the start of it, and it’s going to be something I continue to do,” Westbrook said. “It’s a great event. It’s a good thing to do every year.”