Head of NBA wives' group has a mission of her own Print
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Friday, 18 April 2008 00:17
NBA Headline News

 POTOMAC, Md. (AP) -Charrisse Jackson-Jordan sat in the dining room of her upscale home in the suburbs, with one of her two white-haired Maltese dogs perched lovingly on her lap. She talked about an upcoming unusual charity event, one that involved edible clothing.
Her husband, Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan, was downtown at the Verizon Center, running a Thursday afternoon practice and holding marathon planning meetings with assistants. He left that morning before she awoke, anxious to prepare for the first-round playoffs series against the Cleveland Cavaliers that begins Saturday.
Such is the life of this NBA family. The husband works on the best way to fit Gilbert Arenas into the postseason rotation, while the wife works on fitting Arenas' girlfriend into a chocolate dress.
``I think his challenge is far more greater than mine,'' Jackson-Jordan said with a laugh. ``But one that he loves.''
Jackson-Jordan represents the better halves. She is president of the National Basketball Wives Association, also known as Behind the Bench, a group of players' and ex-players' wives and who raise money for charities and function as a mutual support group.
Girls Clubs and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
Want to hobnob with a Hollywood celebrity? Jackson-Jordan expects ``Desperate Housewives'' star Eva Longoria (Mrs. Tony Parker) to become a dues-paying member in June.
Want to talk about the Princeton offense or the halfcourt trap? Well, too bad.
``We really don't talk about that,'' Jackson-Jordan said. ``The guys, they worry, because a lot of times they don't want their wives to be a part of the organization because they think, 'Lots of catty women and they're talking and spreading rumors.' But I don't know half of their husbands and, quite frankly, I don't care. We're strictly about our mission, and that's what we're focused on.''
The organization has been around since 1993; Jackson-Jordan was elected president in 2005. She's had careers as a teacher and in the pharmaceutical industry, but her work with the wives is now her full-time pursuit, even if it doesn't pay anything.
She finds it disappointing that the NBA is often portrayed as a league all about ``guys who make all this money'' and do ``things that are not so good,'' while comparatively little attention is paid to the league's charitable efforts.
``This is my thing,'' the 42-year-old Jackson-Jordan said. ``I think this is what I'm supposed to be doing in life. I want to start my own foundation. It's fulfilling.''
While overseeing the national organization, Jackson-Jordan also works closely with the Wizards wives and girlfriends. Their next big event is Sweet Charity for the Heart of America Foundation, at which Jackson-Jordan hopes to get Arenas' girlfriend and the wives of Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, Antonio Daniels and Darius Songaila to model the chocolate outfits.
``I'm more like a mentor to them because I'm older than them,'' Jackson-Jordan said. ``They're in their 20s; I'm in my 40s. Basically my role with them is to get them involved and create a comfortable support system.''
Her charity work aside, Jackson-Jordan has become something of a local celebrity in part because her husband won't stop talking about her. Eddie Jordan likes to praise his wife, who gave him a lift when they met during a tough time in his life while he was coaching at Rutgers in the early 1990s, but he'll also throw in a remark that doesn't always sit well at home.
After a recent game, the coach was asked if Arenas' performance was what would be ideal in a perfect world. Jordan's answer: ``That, and my wife not arguing with me. That would be a perfect world.''
``I got so many phone calls and text messages,'' Jackson-Jordan said. ``After three or four calls, I texted Eddie, 'You made some comment about me arguing with you. I don't know what it was, but I don't like it.' He called me back, 'Charrisse, that was all in fun.'''
Sure enough, after the Wizards had won the next game, a fan approached Jackson-Jordan and said: ``I suppose you won't be arguing with your husband tonight, huh?''
Jackson-Jordan and the couple's two children, 10-year-old Jackson and 8-year-old Skylar, often sit on the front row during the coach's postgame news conference. Jordan says their presence helps him keep perspective, and his wife said her husband rarely brings the frustrations of the job home with him. He once joked that she was more excited than he when the Wizards gave him a $12 million contract extension two years ago.
``This is where he and I are a little different,'' Jackson-Jordan said. ``He works very hard. Too hard, I think, sometimes. I feel he should have more because of his effort, where he doesn't care about the stuff. He cares about these players of his and getting them to the next level. He doesn't care about any of the little perks that come with it.''
With the playoffs about to start, their social itineraries will diverge even more. The wife will be working on her fundraisers, while the husband will spend long days at the office and be a homebody when the day is done - lest anyone think he's having fun at the expense of preparing for the postseason.
``To be out somewhere right now, for him, oh, that's like a marketing sin,'' Jackson-Jordan said. ``It's the playoffs.''
 

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