Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Crazy in Love

Doug and Jackie Christie pose in a promotional photo for their new show By Percy Allen

Reportedly Essence, settling into a green suede sofa in the living room of their $5 million estate in Bellevue, Washington, basketball star Doug Christie reaches for his wife Jackie's hand, and their fingers instinctively interlock. As the couple discuss their upcoming reality series, Committed: The Christies, which premiered last month on BETJ, they rarely stop touching, sitting so close it's as if they're joined at the hip. It's a vision of marital unity you'd expect to find in the home of a woman who's known throughout the sports world for never leaving her husband's side.

From Jackie's habit of flying with Doug's team to away games, to the special hand signals Doug flashes her as many as 60 times during a game, the Christies' relationship is ripe for ridicule in an industry where infidelity is the norm. Jackie's behavior is so extreme, says an industry insider, that some folks just call her crazy. "She has the reputation of being obsessive and overbearing," says one sports broadcaster. "And she's made her husband a bit of a pariah in NBA circles because you know if you trade for Doug Christie, his wife comes along as part of the package."

The public discovered just how tight the two are during an October 2002 preseason game, when Jackie, wildly swinging her handbag, ran into the middle of an off-court fight involving Doug and Los Angeles Lakers forward Rick Fox. Almost immediately the Christies' relationship became fodder for sports shows and late-night comedians. But what kept tongues wagging wasn't simply Jackie's willingness to brawl for her man, but also the iron-fisted control she seems to exert over him. "I trust Doug," she insists. "I just don't trust other women."

Six years ago when her husband was playing for the Toronto Raptors (he's currently a free agent, rehabbing an ankle injury), Jackie, allegedly, was uncomfortable that female employees would enter the locker room after games, so Doug began dressing in an adjacent room. The 6-foot 6-inch swingman is so reluctant to fraternize with the opposite sex that, by his own admission, he rarely makes eye contact with females. Meanwhile, his wife made headlines for screaming at a female fan who asked her husband for a kiss. Their conduct has even landed the couple in court. In 2003, when Doug played for the Sacramento Kings, the Christies were named in a lawsuit filed by the team's female PR person, Stephanie Shepard, who claimed she was unable to do her job because the couple is adamant about Doug's limiting his contact with women when Jackie isn't with him.

For Jackie, who remarries her husband every year in a full-length wedding ceremony with guests and cakes, Committed is an opportunity to show detractors just how great things really are. "We don't do anything we're ashamed of," Jackie adds with a smile. "I'm devoted and dedicated to my family and Doug's career. I want to be everything to him, for him and about him. I want to be his queen and he's my king. And it's beautiful." "They've said so much about us," Doug adds with a shrug, his shoulder pressed tight against his wife's. "But nothing really bothers me. Being called whipped or soft and henpecked and all of that stuff, it only bothers me when it hurts my wife's feelings. Ultimately, I'm not afraid for my wife to be a strong Black woman."

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