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Royce White says he’s prepared to walk away from NBA over dispute with Rockets

Nov 17, 2012, 11:30 AM EDT

Royce White AP

The situation between Royce White and the Houston Rockets appears to getting worse before it gets better. And that’s if it gets better at all, a prospect that’s becoming less likely with each passing tweet and interview that White stubbornly continues to put out there.

The short version of what’s going on is this: White has been open and honest with the Rockets (and the world at large) about his daily struggle with an anxiety disorder. Part of the issue with his condition causes a fear of flying, which by itself is almost a disqualifier for anyone truly interested in pursuing a long-term career in the NBA.

The Rockets organization had planned to help White work through these issues to the extent that was possible, and intended on providing the necessary support to get him comfortable with life in the league. But due to White’s continued, extended, and unexcused absences from the team, the organization appears to be losing its will to deal with White and his issues.

Houston began fining White for his days away from the Rockets, and with the two sides at an impasse, White now says he’s considering walking away from the NBA entirely if he can’t get the support he believes he needs to lead a healthy life while pursuing his basketball dream.


Speaking in an interview with ESPN’s Colleen Dominguez, White said he was going to meet with general manager Daryl Morey on Monday to discuss his situation with the team.

“I’d rather tell them on the front end and be honest and transparent and never play again for that than allow me to become one of the stories because I wasn’t able to communicate,” White said.

Asked if he was sure he would give up his NBA career in the interest of openness and honesty, White replied, “If that’s what it means.”

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to side with White here, despite his initial bravery in publicly disclosing what he’s dealing with. The Rockets can’t provide help or support if White won’t show up or attend team-arranged therapy sessions, and the organization can’t make continual exceptions for White which allow him to be away from the team for random and extended periods of time.

It won’t be great for either side if White ends up walking away from the league; the Rockets are not going to trade or release him, so that’s going to be the end result if White continues down this path. And at this point, by choosing to speak publicly about the issues he has with the organization instead of showing up to try to make it work, White will be the one to blame, and the one that ultimately comes out on the losing end of all of this.

  1. kenyanteg123 - Nov 17, 2012 at 11:48 AM

    What a pu**y. Everyone deals with anxiety from time to time. The only way to get rid of it is to tackle it head on. You’ll never get over it if you dwell in fear. I had really bad anxiety for 5 months and I got over it once I realized that there was nothing to fear. I might sound harsh, but if I had an opportunity to play on one of the biggest stages in the world, I would try my best to cope with whatever I was dealing with. Most people would kill to be in his situation and I’m tired of hearing the excuses. If he can’t deal with an airplane he needs to get cut immediately. He doesn’t get any respect from me and doesn’t deserve to play in the NBA.

    • zidanevalor - Nov 17, 2012 at 12:20 PM

      I’m not sure an anxiety disorder means what you think it means. You can’t just “get over it.”

    • dgforreal - Nov 17, 2012 at 1:03 PM

      I find it hard to believe that someone that suffered from anxiety disorder would call fellow sufferer a *****.

    • eugenesaxe - Nov 17, 2012 at 4:38 PM

      Pinheads gonna pinhead.
      Please excuse yourself from ever posting anywhere, ever again.

    • 06mustang - Nov 17, 2012 at 4:44 PM

      You’re an a–hole. You don’t just ‘get over’ anxiety. A person has to find the cause and deal with it over time. It takes a real dickhead to write what you did.

  2. trickpitino - Nov 17, 2012 at 11:49 AM

    Royce White’s scenario is dangerously close to the Dwight Howard trade in terms of “How Annoying Can an Athlete Be?” level.

    Don’t wanna play ball? Don’t play ball. But you can not conceivable hate your employer for expecting you to work (or at least attend therapy sessions that they set up for you).

  3. heathater4lifeson - Nov 17, 2012 at 11:56 AM

    “It’s becoming increasingly difficult to side with White here”
    Actually it’s very easy to side with White. The Rockets knew before they drafted him that it was a risk. He was suffering from the disorder in college so it’s they knew what they were getting. He is considering sacrificing millions of dollars to focus on his health, I hope he gets well soon.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Nov 17, 2012 at 1:17 PM

      Yes, I hope he actually shows up to those counseling session the Rockets have set up for him. His actions are of somebody who has no desire to get well.

      • LPad - Nov 17, 2012 at 1:46 PM

        I wouldn’t read too much into these counseling sessions the Rockets have set up. They should have been out in front of this and tried to arrange something before the season started. To be honest, they shouldn’t have drafted him. Hehas severe anxiety issues and the Rockets aren’t close enough to other NBA cities to alleviate one of things that causes his attacks. If he played in the NE for example Bos or Philadelphia that’s about 60 games where he wouldn’t have to get on a plane. Yes, he would still have to fly out West and etc. but it wouldn’t be as often and it would help him ease into the NBA travel lifestyle.

  4. shzastl - Nov 17, 2012 at 12:05 PM

    The Rockets knew the risks but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to side with White. He makes all these public comments but doesn’t explain why he won’t show up to practice. It doesn’t seem that it has anything to do with them forcing him to get on a plane. If he was able to play in college he was able to make it to practices, games and class. Not clear why he can’t do that now instead of making publicly antagonistic comments.

  5. jeffw - Nov 17, 2012 at 12:20 PM

    I’m not an expert on mental health issues, so I’ll assume the guy is sick. But at the end of the day, if he can’t do his job, then go somewhere and get better, stop trying to make yourself look like a victim. All the Rockets did was give him the opportunity to play the game he supposedly loves and earn millions of dollars to do it. How dare them!!! Oh, the humanity…

  6. thejjtrain - Nov 17, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    He’s on track to throw his NBA career away, and its looking more and more each day like that is what he wants. Chastising the organization publicly wont solve anything. Just because he thinks they aren’t doing anything and everything to help him is not the Rockets problem. There are a dozen other guys on the team who are working hard to win games, and countless fans who want this guy to do well. The NBA is a business, and when a team member doesn’t get a long with management and refuses to come to the middle on any discrepancies they get fired. This young man should not just sit in the corner and pout away his life, and its past time he accepts the Rockets are trying to help him, but first he has to help himself.

  7. dsharpe8 - Nov 17, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    I’ve worked with the mentally ill, and the rockets should’ve known if he was afraid to fly then they should have never touched this kid at all because flying is a big part of the NBA lifestyle. The rockets should have only themselves to blame for this mess knowing this guy’s history with his mental health diagnosis.

    • letangusespertplus - Nov 17, 2012 at 1:59 PM

      they took a risk, its not working out so they are gonna dump the kid. they aren’t asking for their draft pick back. it’s not a big deal.

  8. louiespoon - Nov 17, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    Dude is just screwing himself, tweetering and having public interviews about his problems should cause a lot more anxiety than sitting in private. Houston was brave and took a chance drafting buddy, he should reward them with cooperation…..

  9. abchome - Nov 17, 2012 at 12:44 PM

    If you can’t meet the job requirements, you can only find another job.

  10. rickditka - Nov 17, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    It sounds like his “dream” is to get paid for doing nothing

  11. oldcat157 - Nov 17, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    Call up John Madden. He drove all around the country in a bus. You could pimp it out where it’s relaxing to drive ( of course you’d need a personal driver). You could have a Xbox and all the bananas you want to eat!

  12. minkheel - Nov 17, 2012 at 1:12 PM

    Kenyateg’s comment makes it abundantly clear he never actually suffered from generalized anxiety disorder. White has a disease. He needs treatment. This is no different than if he had diabetes or Lyme. Now if White is refusing treatment or not doing what his docs say, then he has to accept the results. But Royce White is as brave as anyone posting here

  13. diablito0402 - Nov 17, 2012 at 1:15 PM

    Walk away, he wont be missed, believe me!!

  14. zacksdad - Nov 17, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    Bye Bye….

  15. redbaronx - Nov 17, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    Just because the Rockets knew his condition, doesn’t mean that excuses everything White does. White submitted himself to the draft and agreed to undergo therapy. If he wants to be an NBA player, at the very minimum he has to make the effort to attend therapy. From all accounts the Rockets have done what they can to support this guy, and all he does is complain about not being supported. It’s one thing to have a condition. It’s entirely another issue that White seems to be a low character individual.

  16. bkunza - Nov 17, 2012 at 1:26 PM

    He’s been nothing but problems in all the high schools, colleges and now the NBA. Born with the silver spoon in his mouth, daddy will step in and fix this like he has everything else in his life.

  17. dysraw1 - Nov 17, 2012 at 1:27 PM

    I truly feel for this guy, he has the tools to be big in this league. the Rockets knew when they drafted this kid that there would be complications. so they should be a little more patient. perhaps consider giving him the season to get his thing takes real man to even admit to his fears. give him credit for his candor.also take the time find out if he can overcome this huge deficiency

  18. rajbais - Nov 17, 2012 at 1:31 PM

    What waste of talent!!!

    I understand that he is a kid, but he is legally able to seek help for himself.

    Lenny Cooke Was as talented as anybody could be, but he went undrafted. If White Needed to be a compliant player for a team, but the best thing for him would’ve been to not be drafted. If he was not given an instant million dollars, but he would have less entitlement. The flip side, White could have not made the team, face the music, and get back on track. A lot of kids need to learn the hard way. Unfortunately the Houston Rockets made it too easy for him by Making him feel more welcome as a guy who never battled his demons.

  19. sunsation3413 - Nov 17, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    He cant sit around feeling sorry for yourself and waiting for someone to come save you. He has a problem then take some steps to get help. He is well enough to do interviews with ESPN and sit around on Twitter then get your butt to some counseling.

  20. chicagofan - Nov 17, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    He should not quit. His illness is protected under the American’s with Disabilities Act(ADA) and he can sue them if they do not make reasonable accomodations for his illness. This would include a right to be treated by his own physician– because he is most comfortable with him or her — rather than a doctor of the NBA or Rocket’s choosing. By hiring him, especially with knowledge of his preexisting condition, the Rocket’s are in a difficult legal position and have to try and work this out.

    • metalhead65 - Nov 17, 2012 at 4:21 PM

      how is setting up counseling sessions for his condition not a reasonable accomodation? how are the rockets at fault if he refuses to seek the treamant they are offering him? the rockets need to put him on a restricted list and move on without him. I would not cave in to him by cutting him so he can go play for whoever he wants,they are the team that talked with him before the draft and took a gamble on him so why should some other yeam benefit? he either follows the tules or he does not play pro ball simple as that.

      • chicagofan - Nov 17, 2012 at 7:26 PM

        he has a right to chose the best doctor(his perception of who that is can affect his response to treatment)–would you have the teams orthopedic surgeon to your Tom John procedue or the best there was? If White believes he is seeing the best doctor who are you or the Rocket’s to decide otherwse. You assume because the Rockets are run by rich owners they have better judgment or options for doctors than a patient like White.The specialist they chose is not neccesarily the best.The ADA guidelines favor Mr. White’s position. As for you suckers who disagree–I am a physician with over 25yrs experience and willing to bet that White prevails if this goes to court.

    • eugenesaxe - Nov 17, 2012 at 4:56 PM

      Argument fail.

  21. chicagofan - Nov 17, 2012 at 4:15 PM

    Unless you have a medical or nursing degree, you really aren’t qualified to discuss the appropriate treatment of anxiety disorder.

    • metalhead65 - Nov 17, 2012 at 7:02 PM

      and you are? they set up a program with professionals and he refuses to work with them so how is that the rockets fault? why should he be getting paid for doing nothing? if he were making a effort at working on his problem it would be one thing but he refuses to do anything. yes the rockets took a gamble but they met with him and his people before drafting him and assumed that he would be willing to get the help he needs. now that he got his money he refuses to do anything to help himself, so he does not deserve any pay until like the rest of us he does something to earn it. if I were the rockets I would fight him all the way the way no matter how much it costs the. at least make him wait before he gets the rest of his money. if he wants to walk away then fine but either he plays for them or not at all.

      • chicagofan - Nov 21, 2012 at 1:15 AM

        yes, I am –why do you think I added that –Harvard Med Sch –sucker! My credentials likely exceed anybody you or the Rockets could find. How do you know he is making no effort to get better?

  22. pacific123ocean - Nov 17, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    Sad story. The Rockets have provided travel accommodations and a doctor…but, it appears the one accommodation that Royce wants, playing time, the Rockets feel he has not yet earned.

    The Rockets should do Royce a favor and cut him now. I think Royce will be much happier, and healthier, living at his parent’s home, seeing his own doctor.

  23. fruitcovejag - Nov 17, 2012 at 4:23 PM

    I think the NBDL uses buses right? Seems like an OK alternative.

    • themanchine - Nov 17, 2012 at 4:40 PM

      Exactly, That’s my main beef with this situation.
      White wanted PT (who doesn’t?), so they decide to send him to the D-League which USES BUSES, and THAT’S when he decides to go AWOL?
      Something isn’t being told publicly….

      • badintent - Nov 21, 2012 at 12:16 AM

        Calling Dr. Phil. You are wanted in Room 99. We have a situation. No , not that Situation.

  24. jordanismyidol - Nov 17, 2012 at 4:51 PM


  25. jordanismyidol - Nov 17, 2012 at 4:51 PM


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