by Lang Whitaker

I was going to ignore this and hope it went away, but I’ve seen it referenced in three or four places the last few days, so I guess it has some staying power…unfortunately.

Last month’s issue of GQ magazine had a coverline that screamed “NBA GROUPIES TELL ALL.” So of course I flipped directly to that article, where the layout featured a stylized woman in the mode of the NBA logo.

Great premise for a story, right? In this day of saturated media coverage of the NBA and really all sports, one of the final frontiers is groupies. We all are pretty sure they exist, we’re all pretty sure it’s a salacious topic. But where’s the coverage? Aside from using “NBA groupies” as a punchline in stories, there has been very little written about the women who chase NBA players hoping to get in their pants.

But then as you read the GQ story, it becomes obvious that the NBA is really secondary in the story, which is more about a group of women who’ve come to Houston for the NBA All Star game to hang out and party. They do not hook up with any NBA players, they have no stories about hooking up with NBA players or chasing them around, and as it goes along it becomes obvious that these women have little interest in actually hooking up with NBA players.

If anything, these women are moreso groupies of the NBA itself, particularly All-Star weekend — the parties, the clubs, etc. What the GQ story is actually about is women who like to have a good time. But GQ wanted a story about NBA groupies, so they tie it all together with an amazingly tenuous thread and throw it out there, hoping to generate some headlines and noise. Which, of course, it has. (There’s one other facet that makes the story completely fall apart, but I’ll get to that in a second.)

I’ve been around a lot of NBA locker rooms and NBA parties and NBA guys away from the court, and I can honestly say there aren’t as many NBA groupies as some people would have you think, mostly because the players don’t have time for it. Think about it: The team gets into a city at 4:00 a.m., have shootaround at 10:00 a.m., have three hours off in the afternoon, have a game that night and leave immediately afterwards. You’d have to be really dedicated to getting caught out there in order to play in the groupie market. I just called an NBA exec who travels with an NBA team and asked him about groupies, and he said he never sees groupies hanging out at the hotel — like the Ritz-Carlton is going to just allow a bunch of random women to stand around by the check-in desk — and he very rarely catches them in the arenas after games.

Which isn’t to say NBA groupies don’t exist. I’ve seen the women, and I’ve been with NBA players when they’ve been approached by ladies, almost exclusively at parties, the kind of place that a regular person can’t just stroll into without being on some kind of list. If you want to meet an NBA player at a club, you have to know someone, either to get on the VIP list or get an introduction or whatever.

The one similarity that unites most women I’ve seen hanging around NBA players is that they’re all hot. Really hot. Like model hot.

Which is why I was surprised when I saw the photo of GQ‘s NBA groupies, who look like…well, I’m not trying to put those ladies on blast. Let’s just say you wouldn’t mistake any of them for a Victoria’s Secret angel, which is generally the caliber of NBA chicks.

I don’t know if there’s some extended network through which real NBA groupies all stay in touch and plan out who gets what cities. Does someone coordinate their travel? How do they get into the best clubs in various cities? Is there one legendary NBA groupie? Which players are the most susceptible to groupies? Why do these women choose to live their lives like this?

In fact, that we know almost nothing about these women suggests that there’s a great story waiting to be written on the subject. And maybe this time we can find out the real story.