Before Khloe Kardashian even set eyes on Lamar Odom, there was Jackie Christie. Widely viewed as the original "basketball wife," Jackie has been married to former NBA all-star Doug Christie for 16 years. You may even remember her from that infamous Sacramento Kings vs. Los Angeles Lakers game back in in 2002 when Doug got into a courtside brawl with Rick Fox. Jackie quickly came to her husband's aid and began swinging at Rick with her purse. This woman is fierce!
Jackie is set to add "reality star" to her resume by starring in VH1's new Basketball Wives spin-off series Basketball Wives: LA. From issues of infidelity to balancing a career with her high-profile marriage, Jackie gave Wetpaint Entertainment the scoop on what it's really like to be married to a basketball player. She even had a few words of wisdom for Kim before she weds her NBA beau Kris Humphries.
Wetpaint Entertainment: What can you tell us about Basketball Wives: LA?
Jackie Christie: I think viewers should expect to see a group of women that are no-nonsense. We are very much in your face. I think they will see a different side to a lot of wives they think they may know. [Basketball Wives: LA] is a lot different from the Miami show. You’re going to see a lot more about who we are — you’re going to see into our lives completely.
Should viewers expect the show to be high on drama?
It’s extremely high on drama and excitement. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll go into a ride. It’s real. It’s no holds bar[red]. It’s looking into the life of an NBA wife, girlfriend, and fiancée in Los Angeles.
What are the unique challenges of being married to a basketball player? As opposed to an actor or an NFL player?
I would say one of the unique challenges is [dealing with] the misconceptions [people have about] a lot of the wives and girlfriends: that you only marry for the fame and fortune of it, you’re flighty, you shop all the time. A lot of it is true but then its misconstrued... A lot of times you don’t get to see their struggles. I think the show will really change people’s perception about what a basketball player’s wife is.
In the tabloids there are always stories of basketball players cheating on their wives. Is infidelity a real concern for a basketball wife?
I definitely feel like it’s a main concern. Infidelity does live amongst the league as far as players go. There’s a lot of concern, stress, and drama over it. That’s why [Basketball Wives: LA] going to be a great show for the world to see.
Is it hard to balance a career with being a basketball wife?
It’s hard to balance a career with being a basketball wife if your priorities aren’t correct — mine are. I’ve always had somewhat of a career while my husband played but I kept it low-key. I’m a fashion designer so I was designing clothes. The wives and the players were some of my main customers… But [my career] took a backseat when it came to support Doug when he played. For some women [the balance] may be hard. But for me it was easy because I knew he was my priority. When he slows down and hangs up his shoes, then I’ll step out into the limeliight. That’s what I’m doing now and I’m going to forward with my fashion line, my books, and everything that I do for a career.
So I hear a lot of women complain. They’re under a lot of stress and say, “I feel guilty. I feel like I should be raising the kids while my husband works,” or they say “I don’t know, I’ve lost my identitiy. I don’t know who I am.” I counsel them all the time to find a path where they can have a career and be the wife of an athlete.
Khloe Kardashian is married to Lamar Odom of the Los Angeles Lakers. Have you seen Khloe & Lamar? Did you find it portrayed the lifestyle accurately?
I will definitely say that I can relate to Khloe and Lamar quite a bit. The show was funny, I thought, and it is a lot like the world of basketball. I like that when she’s angry about something, she shows the world. She wants to be romantic, she shows the world. So I would definitely say it’s an accurate portrayal of what its like to be married to an athlete. I’ll definitely be watching [the show] more.
Kim Kardashian is set to marry a basketball player herself. She's engaged Kris Humphries of the New Jersey Nets. Do you have any advice for her about being a basketball wife?
I think Kim pretty much has it under control. The one thing I would tell Kim is to support her man 1000%. Kim should put him first and make sure that whatever his needs are, she meets them. But she should be totally fine. She’s a pretty girl, she’s really smart, and she seems like she really loves Kris.
You've been married to Doug Christie for 16 years. What are your secret for making a marriage to a basketball player last?
My secret is respect — that’s the first and foremost thing. I think a lot of times with relationships if the husband or the boyfriend doesn’t respect the woman and vice versa you’re going to have a breakdown. You’re not going to have communication. You’re not going to be as intimate. You’re going to lack all the things that a strong and lasting relationship [needs].
My secret is to respect yourself and to respect your mate — put them first. As long as you do that you should be okay.
Basketball Wives: LA premieres Monday, August 29, on VH1.