The Christies may travel separately these days – the organization does not allow wives on charter flights – but they still come and go as a package. They share all their experiences, even the worst of them, seldom leaving each other’s side. And the longtime King, one of the more respected, popular players in the franchise’s Sacramento era, not only no longer plays in the comfortable craziness of Arco Arena, no longer lives in the same neighborhood as Brad Miller and Peja Stojakovic, he no longer occupies a spot in the starting lineup in Orlando. The job description seemingly was re-written after the fact, thrusting him into a situation that caught him off guard, and as of last weekend left him wondering about the very state of his career.
“Doug is distraught,” Jackie offered. “He’s still not over the trade, and it’s not even the basketball part of it. It’s the feel of Sacramento, the fans, the community. Sometimes he gets so down … we have a farewell video that the Kings gave us before we left, and I’ll find him sitting there watching it, and he gets all choked up. I’ll tell him, ‘Doug, you have to stop.’ But everything was so special there. The one good thing is that we’ll be out there on March 15.”
In Sacramento, remember, Christie was an icon of sorts, a family man with the quirky hand signals and the unconventional marriage. In Orlando, he is just another reserve, Jackie just another wife.
“I’ve been traded before,” he said, “but this was the hardest, without a doubt.”
Before the couple reached the parking lot, arms still linked, expressions still grim, Jackie shared a story: At a recent birthday party for 4-year-old Doug Jr., one of his cousins gave him a Mike Bibby basketball card. Doug, Jr. stared at the gift, then turned to his parents. When are we moving back? When are we going home?
“I told him that this is where his daddy works now,” Jackie continued, “but he didn’t understand. He said, ‘I was born there. I like my friends there. I want to see Slamson again. When are we leaving?’ That breaks your heart. But I’m just trying to stay positive for Doug.”
(Slamson, equally distraught that the Christies have left town)