Muddling along in their anonymous, flyover-state, sub-.500 news vacuum, the Jazz finally received some national attention Thursday. And it had nothing to do with defense, rebounding or scoring.
Well, not defense or rebounding.
Andrei Kirilenko's once-a-year "allowance" from his pop-star wife piqued the imagination of talk-show hosts, chat-room posters and yes, even some comedians. As Masha Lopatova, married to Kirilenko for nearly six years, said Wednesday night in the Delta Center, "People in this country are so interested in how athletes live - [and] they are most interested in sex, for some reason."
Her point was proven Thursday, from radio to TV to the Internet.
Kirilenko, the 25-year-old Jazz forward, reveals in the current issue of ESPN The Magazine that Lopatova, mindful of the presence of women who congregate around wealthy professional athletes, has granted permission for him to indulge himself, so to speak, with another woman once per season.
"If I know about it," Lopatova said Wednesday, "it's not cheating."
That philosophy was applauded, frequently in jest, in a variety of settings.
On ESPN's own "Pardon the Interruption" television show, for example, Washington Post columnist Michael Wilbon asked, "Ain't Mrs. Kirilenko the coolest wife in the world or what?"
His co-host, the Post's Tony Kornheiser, agreed: "She is a Top 5 wife, all-time. In fact, she is up there right now on the Mount Rushmore of wives."
That was the consensus on the sports network's morning radio show, "Mike & Mike," too, where co-host Mike Greenberg, calling Kirilenko's allowance "the best story we've ever had," lamented that his wife doesn't share Lopatova's attitude. "I'd just like one day of guilt-free golf," Greenberg joked.
Nationally syndicated radio host Jim Rome took up the topic as well, though he doubted Lopatova's premise, that removing the thou-shalt-not prohibition from marital infidelity also would remove the temptation to stray. "It's the same way raising children," Lopatova explained Wednesday. "If I tell my child, 'No pizza, no pizza, no pizza,' what does he want more than anything? Pizza."
Argued Rome on his daytime talk show, "NBA groupies are probably like potato chips: You can't have just one. Once he breaks open that bag of groupies, he'll probably fire right through the entire bag."
Kirilenko, recovering from back spasms that kept him out of Wednesday's loss to the Bobcats, did not comment on Thursday. But his marriage was debated on message boards and by e-mail much of the day. On deadspin.com, a sports-discussion Web site, for instance, Kirilenko's wife was described as the "anti-Mrs. Doug Christie," a reference to the recently retired NBA guard and his famously devoted wife.
One post on the site also called her "the anti-Anna Benson," meaning the wife of Orioles pitcher Kris Benson who once announced that if her husband was ever unfaithful, she would sleep with each of his teammates.
Added a poster nicknamed MikeyUtah, "As a Jazz fan for almost 20 years now, it might be the funniest moment in our history." Another post lamented, "I just got punched for showing this story to my girlfriend."
Not everyone found the couple's arrangement funny or titillating, however.
More than two dozen readers e-mailed The Salt Lake Tribune with comments on the story, and while most supported the couple, three or four of them did not. As Salt Lake resident Bill Bogdan wrote, "It is accepted by anyone who has a half-clear thought that when someone sleeps with another person, he sleeps with everyone else that person has slept with. We have enough social problems in our society without giving permission to add to our already existing problems."
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