Christina Whatley is a D.C. native who loves her hometown, and when she left the District for college last decade, she wanted to bring along some mementos from Washington. So, for example, she brought a D.C. flag. And while going through deep storage in her home, she also found a Michael Jordan Wizards jersey, which she also brought along.
Now, Whatley heartily supports D.C. sports team, but she wasn’t necessarily a Jordan fan. In fact, she acquired this particular jersey while in middle school at Georgetown Day, when a fellow student never claimed the jersey out of the lost-and-found at the end of the school year.
(In fact, she still thinks she knows whose jersey it was. Sorry, Ilana. Don’t get mad at Christina. Or me. At least your middle-school Jordan jersey is now Internet famous.)
In any case, that jersey went with Whatley to college in Atlanta, and then to Chicago, where she moved in 2011 for a job.
Whatley, now 24, has worn the jersey to several Wizards games in Chicago since making that city her home. She’s worn it to other landmark events; Coachella in 2012, for example. And with her parents in town from D.C. this week and wanting to go to the game, Whatley figured she might as well wear it again. Yes, a Michael Jordan jersey. In Wizards colors. In Chicago. During a potential close-out game against Washington.
Hey, her only other piece of Wizards clothing was a Gilbert Arenas T-shirt.
“A lot of people commented, but no one got actually upset. People just kind of laughed,” she told me on Wednesday. “There was a guy sitting behind me, he said ‘Well at least it’s a Jordan jersey.’ I think people kind of get it. He only played on the Wizards a short period of time, and he has this long legacy in Chicago, so it’s kind of funny to them in a way as opposed to being upsetting. I said to the guy behind me, you guys had Jordan first and then we got Jordan, and you guys had Obama first and now we have Obama. Everyone laughed at that.”
In fact, Whatley’s mom probably caused more of a stir thanks to some particularly enthusiastic cheering for the visiting team. (One neighboring Bulls fan moved seats, complaining about the noise.) Television cameras caught a few other Wizards fans on Tuesday night, but Whatley and her parents only saw one fellow traveler. Still, that didn’t stop them from standing and making noise when the Bulls shot free-throws, or from happily celebrating their series win.
“I was one person standing up in a sea of people sitting down,” she recalled. “People were taunting me, but it’s always fun.”
Whatley’s parents are D.C. diehards — her dad, Stephen, is a Washington native who currently serves as an ANC 4A commissioner — but she is trying to adapt to her new home. She has cheered for Chicago teams when they don’t face their Washington counterparts — even including the Bulls. But for Game 5 of the playoffs, she had to stay true to her roots.
“Always D.C. first,” she explained. “Every time the Wizards play in Chicago, I always wear that jersey.”
Or, like she posted on Instagram, #JordanPlayedForTheBulls? #ButTheyreOut#wizardsforever #wizkids #DaZards #winners.