Growing up as the ultimate Magic Johnson fanboy, there was nothing I wanted more than to own his authentic home jersey. The thick patches stitched on the yellow mesh tank top was the epitome of awesomeness for me.
Unfortunately, an authentic jersey cost $200 at the time. Like many other 4th graders, I didn’t have two bills readily available.
Of course the parents were there, but they looked at me like I was crazy when I begged them for the money. Instead, they went the replica jersey route for my 11th birthday.
To any jersey connoisseur, the differences in appearance between the real and the fake are staggering. I was pretty disappointed. I was the starting point guard and my parents wanted me to rock a #32 replica?
The following day, I reluctantly wore the jersey to practice and I was surprised to be the complete envy of two of my teammate, who happened to be brothers and fellow Laker fanatics. I asked them why they were so envious of Magic’s replica, which cost roughly eight times less than the authentic, because it wasn’t the real deal.
The older brother told me that he wished his mom could afford just one replica jersey for them to share, but she was already working two jobs just so they could play on the park and rec team. If I recall correctly, the city charged $60 per player.
I had never felt so ashamed of myself.
From that moment on, I took care of that replica like you wouldn’t believe. Although the numbers were all silkscreened on, I still hand washed it myself instead of just throwing it in the machine.
UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones appears to have an equal obsession when it comes to authentic items. Here’s what “Bones” recently told WithLeather about his fondness for signing replica UFC belts:
If you could change one thing in MMA, what would it be?
JONES: It’s a silly one. I would get rid of the replica belts.
Like the ones they sell at the events?
JONES: Yeah. I hate it when people come up to me with a belt that looks exactly like mine and they ask me to sign it. I worked three times a day for three years to get this [light heavyweight belt, and now this guy asking me for an autograph has one just like it. Are you serious? I mean it’s not as heavy, but it looks just the same.”
I like that. I don’t think it’s silly at all.
JONES: I never sign those belts.
Really? I’m sure that goes over very well.
JONES: Yeah. It’s personal.
There’s really not much UFC fighters can license in terms of memorabilia. You have your gloves and your trunks and that’s about it.
JONES: Yeah, UFC has everything. They have our name, they have our video game rights, they have our toy rights, poster rights. They have everything. Can’t I wear my own gloves? But yeah, I’ll sign anything they’ll ask me. Gloves. Shirts. Boobs.
There are two replica belts currently available online. The kids’ buckle sells at Toys R Us for $12.99, while the adult replica strap commands a $399.95 price tag on UFC.com.
Boobs are free.