Three months later, in September 1991, he asked her to marry him. She was stunned. It was the preseason, no time for a honeymoon, a rush. He said he knew what he wanted and, just as important, what he didn't want. This was the time to start a marriage, start a family. He wanted a partner for life. She accepted.
"Before, I was worried about a million things," he says. "I said that any woman I married would have to sign a prenuptial agreement. Now I didn't care about that. If my wife left the next day, whatever money she got wouldn't matter to me at all. What would break my heart would be that she would be leaving a marriage put together by God. She would be rejecting God."
The honeymoon they missed they have taken at the end of every season since. Last year it was in Hawaii. Valerie and David now have two sons, David and Corey; a house in the exclusive Dominion section of San Antonio; and an off-season home in Aspen. Colo. They plan to build a new, larger house in San Antonio. "Everything changed so much for me." Robinson says. "I had all these doubts, didn't like who I was, and then I moved into this storybook life."
He hears other men talking about "ways to gel out of the house." He wonders at that. He says his approach is to find "ways to get back to the house." That is where his true life is. He hears stories about the free-love life that he rejected and notices that often they are followed by postscripts about domestic abuse, paternity suits, divorce and sexually transmitted diseases.
Sex sometimes seems to be everywhere. Robinson calls it "the oldest trick in the book, the naked lady offering an apple." Most television distresses him. What are these producers thinking? Where is their sense of responsibility? The Spurs' media guide lists each player's favorite movie. Robinson's is The Little Mermaid.
"I made a rule when I got married," he says, talking about women who still come around to flirt. "I decided that if anyone's feelings are going to be hurt, they're not going to be my wife's. If I think someone is acting inappropriately. I say so. It may sound harsh, but that's the way it is. My wife is not going to be the one to suffer."
DAVID ROBINSON VERSUS GREED
If he were a bachelor, he would be one of the biggest catches of all, because he is one of the highest-paid players in the NBA. That is another amazing thing. How did all of this money arrive? He is not a gun-to-the-head negotiator but rather a traveler with the flow of market forces. Market forces have flowed very well.
"I never wanted to be wealthy, just happy," he says. "I think I'm the luckiest guy in the world. If I was in this league making $250,000 a year, I'd still think I was the luckiest guy in the world. I hear guys who sit at the end of the bench gripe about making $250,000. What are they talking about? They're still in...what, the top five percent of people in this country? They have three months off every summer. What's the problem? If I was making $250,000 to sit at the end of the bench and wave a towel, I'd be the best towel waver you ever saw."
When Robinson came out of the Naval Academy with two years to serve on active duty, his advisers found that he had a curious advantage. NBA regulations included a seldom-invoked "military clause." If a player drafted by the league had to serve military time before playing, he could reenter the draft when he returned from the service if he had not previously signed a contract. This put the Spurs, who drafted Robinson as their obvious hope for the future, in a bind. This gave Robinson substantial leverage.