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Monday, March 6, 2006
Updated: March 14, 12:26 PM ET
Once-a-year allowance

By Mike Greenberg
Special to Page 2

Well, guys, we've found it.

We've known for years that the lives being led by the stars of professional sports bore no resemblance to our own, but we were lacking absolute proof. Most of our evidence was circumstantial; we heard stories about nightclubs and party boats, saw the expensive cars and the hundreds of thousands of dollars in jewelry being worn with jeans and we figured, "Oh yeah, these guys are living in a different world."

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Mike Greenberg's new book, "Why My Wife Thinks I'm an Idiot: The Life and Times of a Sportscaster Dad" (Villard Books) is available March 7. The book is a wry and revealing look at one man's good-hearted but mistake-prone attempt to grow up before his children do. Marriage, fatherhood, manhood, fame, athletes, crazed aunts with gambling problems, the true significance of sports, the worst possible thing to say in a room full of pregnant women -- no topic is out of reach.

But we haven't really had the concrete proof we needed. Until now. God bless Andrei Kirilenko's wife; she has sealed the deal, once and for all.

In case you missed what was inarguably the most important sports story of last week (labor, schmabor; we've had work stoppages before) the wife of Utah Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko told ESPN The Magazine that she has given her husband an allowance of one woman per year.

She said that because women are forever throwing themselves at him and because things that are forbidden only become more desirable, she has told her husband he may have sex outside their marriage one time per year.

"If I know about it," she concluded, "it's not cheating."

Wow.

Forgive my comparatively inarticulate response, but no other word comes to mind. This woman has just changed the rules, forever.

Now, a couple of thoughts.

First, I spent several years traveling with an NBA team, and I can personally attest to the fact that women react to these guys as if they were Leo at the opening of "Titanic." The lobbies of the hotels where the teams stay look like the crowd outside the velvet ropes at fancy nightclubs. There are women everywhere -- dressed to go out, tight black dresses, stiletto heels, tons of makeup, hair up high -- and this is at 10 o'clock in the morning.

Andrei Kirilenko
Andrei Kirilenko and his wife, Masha, have a special kind of arrangement.
Secondly, NBA players obviously aren't the only guys who have women throwing themselves at them. How about rock stars? Do you think Jerry Hall gave Mick Jagger an allowance? Maybe their arrangement was one woman per day. Or per hour. I don't know. It sort of makes you all the more amazed by Jon Bon Jovi. He has been with his wife since high school, and we've never seen any evidence that he needs an allowance.

The first time I interviewed Bon Jovi, I tried to break the ice by saying: "Jon, I feel like I know you. My girlfriend in college had your poster directly over her bed."

He didn't bat an eye, replying, "A lot of women had that poster." Which I suppose they did. Millions of them. I can't begin to fathom what it would be like to live like that.

Anyway, back to the point. I've always known rock stars lived in fantasy land -- did you ever see the Def Leppard "Behind The Music"? -- but never have I felt so far from an athlete as I do now with Kirilenko.

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My first reaction was to show the story to my wife. Then I asked what she would say if I suggested a similar plan in our marriage. I really wanted to print her reaction, and if she ever stops laughing, perhaps I will.

In the meantime, the most amazing part of the story is Kirilenko's reaction. "Of course it was a surprise," he says, "but I'm not planning on doing anything."

He's not planning on doing anything? That's like shanking one off the first tee and turning down a mulligan. I don't ever pass up a mulligan, and the stakes of my golf games are generally pretty tame. This guy is exercising some fairly remarkable self-control.

Or maybe he's smarter than we think. Maybe he realizes this is a trap she is setting just to see how he'd respond. Maybe he is passing a test with flying colors and knows it will earn him guilt-free golf for life. Honey, you chose not to sleep with any other women even with permission, thus you may now play golf any time you want for the rest of our marriage and I will never make that face when you come home, no matter how tough a day I've had with the kids. Imagine that. (In fact, ask yourself whether you'd rather have one peccadillo a year or a lifetime of guilt-free golf. I know which way I'd go.)

So the point is that I think she was testing him. I think she just wanted to see whether he would take her up on the offer. (I probably only think that because I find the concept so totally improbable. Which brings us back to living in different worlds; if Wilt Chamberlain's lifetime "stats" aren't inflated, maybe an allowance of one per year actually isn't generous enough.)

Anyway, I am here to announce I am launching a research project, and I need your help. I want to put this concept to the test, and I will publish the results next week.

Guys, here's what I want you to do. Show your wife the Andrei Kirilenko story and ask whether she'd be open to such an arrangement. Then e-mail her response to me at MikeandMike@ESPNRadio.com, with the subject heading KIRILENKO.

Ladies, I have an assignment for you, as well: Take this story to your husband and ask what he would do if you presented him with the scenario. Then e-mail the response to the same address with the same heading.

Thanks in advance, everybody. Should make for an interesting week.

Mike Greenberg is the co-host of "Mike & Mike in the Morning" on ESPN Radio.