Athlete Encounters turn fans into groupies

In light of the scantily clad woman at the recent NBA All-Star Game and the new Kid Rock and Scott Stapp sex-tape video scandal, I was inspired to write about the oldest but most hush-hush unofficial sport of citizens everywhere: being a professional groupie. Being awe-struck by a celebrity doesn’t take into account what gender you are, how old you are or where you are — going weak in the knees over seeing someone famous is a symptom that affects us all. But how well you compose yourself or how far you put out to pursue the chance encounter is what defines a groupie ho-fessional from an awe-struck amateur.

For those that refuse to look at this as a sport, I beg to differ. You have your uniform: For girls, it’s usually cleavage up to the neck and your little sister’s skirt (clear heels don’t hurt either), while guys tend to sport jerseys and have their equipment (Sharpie) in hand. Your game plan: flirting with the security guard to get backstage or fake press passes to get past the locker room doors.

You have the legends, such as Karrine Steffans, author of “Confessions of a Video Vixen,” whose conquests include Shaq and Ja Rule among others, as well as the infamous groupies: Katelyn Faber, whose claim to fame is none other than Kobe Bryant — with the thousands of groupies across the world, only a few come out with some kind of souvenir. But whether it’s money or a diamond necklace, everyone goes away with a story to tell to anyone who will listen.

But don’t put the fault just on the groupies; it takes two to do this tango. Not every superstar is scotch clean, no matter what their appearance may seem. Case-in-point: Ichiro Suzuki, probably the best Japanese import since Nintendo, whom Ken Griffey Jr. would like to kid “had not butt,” has what seems to be a gleaming track record. But even Suzuki has a few skeletons in his closet: A couple years ago, the 160-pound, married All-Star was bogged with rumors that he had made a lucrative monetary offer to a woman to silence her from stepping forward to the press and releasing details of their steamy affair. And who could forget the crazy stories about Magic Johnson’s orgies that began to shed light to HIV awareness in the early ’90s?

A 1998 Sports Illustrated article even brought to the spotlight the high number of NBA players who had out-of-wedlock children. One of the biggest repeat offenders was Shawn Kemp, who has seven children with six different mothers. That’s a lot of love to have to spread around.

Some people even have terms for the different types of groupies that exist in the league: “lot lizards” — groupies that hang out in the parking lot; “camp groupies” — those that live near team training camps; “grandma groupies” — the 40- and 50-year-old groupies; and “marry-mes” — those that want to be wives, among others, all of which makes you scratch your head in amusement and wonder.

But not every groupie is sleazy. Take, for example, Spike Lee, who has made it his personal mission to be a courtside fixture at every New York Knicks game. He may not be your typical image of a groupie — but he’s pertinently there schmoozing with the players after the games and holds an extensive collection of Knicks memorabilia, enough to make anyone jealous.

It was hard to pick my favorite story from an Ozone Magazine article called “Groupie Confessions,” which asked for groupies to anonymously step forward with their stories about being with a famous celebrity. But I leave you with one quote that will make anyone’s night complete: “I had a one-night stand with Allen Iverson. He was recording his album and I happened to be at the studio. One of my homegirls was into one of his homeboys. There was four [expletive] there and he was like, ‘I wanna [expletive] someone for the night.’”