By Jemele Hill
Page 2 columnist

It was once simple mathematics. Athlete plus groupie equaled layup. A harmless transaction. Just the game after the game.

Everyone usually walked away happy. The athlete added another notch to the uniform and the groupie got a story to tell, maybe a thank you in the form of a cash bundle, or sweet seats at the game.

Somehow, though, the athlete-groupie relationship shifted. Groupies started showing expert use of a powerful weapon.

Book publishers.

Groupies have kissed and told in print before, but their disclosures usually didn't propel them to the best-seller list or Oprah's couch. The moment Karrine "Superhead" Steffans, former groupie to superstar athletes and rappers, showed up on "Oprah," a once mutually beneficial dynamic was changed forever.

Karrine Steffans
Arnold Turner / WireImage.com
Karrine "Superhead" Steffans provides the business blueprint for groupies with her best-selling book.

Steffans is the one who has helped groupies worldwide take things to a new level. Her best-selling 2005 book, "Confessions of a Video Vixen," gave groupies hope. It gave them pride. And to the detriment of pro athletes everywhere, it gave groupies a business plan.

Steffans allegedly rose from Puff Daddy's bed to Oprah's couch, from back-of-the-limo trysts with Usher to dating Bill Maher, from ashy to classy as Notorious BIG would say.

Now Steffans has a clone in Carmen Bryan, the former Def Jam Records office worker whose tell-all autobiography, "It's No Secret," drops on Tuesday.

Bryan has penned a hoodrat Harlequin-style romance that details her alleged affairs with Allen Iverson and rappers Nas and Jay-Z.

Thanks to Bryan's well-timed leaked excerpts, I discovered The Answer's best move isn't his crossover. Bryan called A.I. a "warrior" in bed, and just to make sure I put a steak knife through my eyeballs, she recounted in great detail the time she and Iverson engaged in a four-hour sex bout. Imagine how happy Philly fans would be if Iverson could go that long without a turnover.

These books are troubling for obvious reasons, but it's not the uncouth disclosure of such intimate details that makes this all so disturbing.

What has become clear is that athletes and groupies have forgotten the rules of engagement. The roles have been muddled, and as a result, Philly fans will now have recurring nightmares about this passage in Bryan's book:

"He buried his face in my neck in spontaneous affection, which got Round 3 going," Bryan wrote. "By now I needed a battery to keep up with the energetic Bubba Chuck [Iverson's nickname]."

Bet that went over big with Mrs. Iverson, who may soon receive her own $4 million don't-divorce-me ring.

Kobe violated the code of the locker room when he snitched on Shaq to Colorado police, and groupies have defied the Groupie Codes – a list of strict guidelines that must be followed by groupies and athletes to ensure their interaction is as uncomplicated and meaningless as it used to be.

"It's not for everyone," said Steve Pasternack, owner of the Miami-based sugardaddie.com, an online dating Web site that pairs wealthy men with eligible women. "A lot of women have to realize this is what it is. It's not for everyone."

It's time to remind groupies and athletes what the game is really about.

So with input from an expert panel that included Pasternack, a former Big Ten basketball player, a former major college football player, women who have dated athletes and guys who would sell their souls to have groupies … here is the Groupie Code:

• After midnight and before 6 a.m. – those are the hours. Daylight appearances only give groupies a false sense of security.

• It's a temporary takeover, not a merger. Think of Groupie Nation as an oppressed country that you want to occupy, but not govern.

• If a groupie is also messing around with a rapper … have her bootleg his CD. He's stealing from you so you might as well steal from him.

• Never tell an athlete, "I don't usually do this, but …" If you didn't usually do it, he wouldn't be messing around with you.

• If you get good tickets, that doesn't make you a favorite. It could be an athlete's way of showing authorities whom to serve with a restraining order.

• You are not No. 1. In the grand scheme of things, you may not even be in the athlete's top 20. Pasternack warns: "You've got to keep in mind his career is the most important thing in his life." A close second on the priority list is making sure the wife doesn't have the evidence to get the prenup nullified.

• A groupie must never possess an athlete's main cell phone or home number. Get a phone specifically for extracurricular usage and don't have the bill sent to your house. As an extra precaution, it just might be a good idea not to mess around with any groupie with Internet access.

• Never allow a groupie access to your cell phone for any reason. If a groupie even tries to answer your phone, dismiss her immediately. Always keep your phone locked. Not with the key guard, but a secure four-digit code. And I don't mean your birth date, either.

• Have a groupie power poll. This way you don't get attached to just one groupie. Treat it like the BCS if you have to, with a top 25, strength of schedule and margin of victory.

• Forget the Cristal. Get Miller Lite. Too much wining and dining leads to confusion. Save the romance for wifey. Besides, if you treat a groupie like a girlfriend, she'll start thinking she has the rights of one. The best way to treat a groupie is like the drunk uncle in your family. Allow her to entertain you and then deny knowing her.

• No photos or videotapes – not so much as a hair sample. Approach each rendezvous with a groupie as though it were an episode of "Without A Trace."

• Finally, there is no circumstance dire enough to warrant ever bringing a groupie to your home. You are just asking for this to be a chapter in the groupie's book: "Why Mrs. Iverson Isn't Really That Good Of A Housekeeper."

Jemele Hill, a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN the Magazine, can be reached at jemeleespn@gmail.com.




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