White Makes Things Harder For Himself

HOUSTON — Royce White has said he was not AWOL. He has said via Twitter that he is being fined $15,000 a day by the Rockets. He has said on his Twitter account that the Rockets were “inconsistent” in helping him. He tweeted several days ago that his employers were “low,” though that comment was eventually deleted from his timeline.

White reportedly told ESPN that he was willing to walk away from his NBA career. Then, a short time later, he backtracked a bit with another tweet:

“I’m not PLANNING to quit, but it if its between my HEALTH and BASKETBALL, health takes precedence.”

The point is, White has said a lot of different things since he left the Rockets following a game a week ago in Memphis, none of which would seem to be helping his cause as an NBA player or a would-be spokesman for those suffering from anxiety disorder.

Taken with the No. 16 pick in last June’s draft, the 6-foot-8 forward with the well-known condition was seen as either a bold gamble or the foolish waste of a valuable first-round choice by many around the league.

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey had to overrule advice against making the pick even from inside his own war room on draft night, but he believed White possessed the talent of a top five pick and was worth the gamble. Now that roll of the dice has the Rockets playing defense in a scenario that began with them holding out the only career lifeline.

Since that time, several NBA executives have said that if not for the Rockets, White might not have been drafted at all and never given his platform, which has been helpful in spreading awareness of mental health issues and hindrance to, it would seem, his own mental health.

White’s often stream-of-consciousness dialogue on Twitter has elicited both heart-felt support and vicious condemnation and has done little to close the breach that he has created between himself and the only NBA team that was willing to reach out to him.

From the beginning, the Rockets have been supportive of White’s needs and desires, renegotiating his contract in order to provide cars and RVs and drivers for road trips, due to his well-known fear of flying. They have provided him with even members of their staff to ride along as companions, and yet even that has led to this standoff.

White has claimed on Twitter that he is not AWOL, yet he fits the very definition of the acronym — Absent With Out Leave. The Rockets have been fining him for every day he misses practices and games, and also for not consulting with a mental health professional they have chosen.

He is certainly not the first rookie to try to talk his way into playing time, but suggesting that it would lower his anxiety and help his condition is pushing at the envelope.

White has said the media has misrepresented his side of the story and omitted facts, yet his only statements have been on Twitter. His latest on Friday evening:

“NBA might be a dream come true, but being UNHEALTHY isn’t, people will know I stood up for myself and what’s right. #NeverABadTime”

Whatever that is. Whatever he thinks that is.

He has a problem, a very real problem that is shared by millions all over the globe, and is very brave to talk about it openly. He can be a symbol of hope at the same time that he is a lightning rod for criticism.

However, this was never going to be an easy road, and Royce White keeps making it harder on himself.


  1. charles says:

    White and Houston need to solve this – especially Houston. Give the kid a shot and let him show what he can do before you declare him to be a bust.

  2. John says:

    He’s crippled by his disorder. So why isn’t he seeking help? Faulty logic by a truly troubled person.

  3. Oliver Miller says:

    i still dont believe that knuckle pushups story

  4. ........ says:

    This article is sadly racist, insensitive & condescending…

    and I guarantee that the author Fran Blanburry doesn’t write, this tastelessly, if White was a Caucasian player.

    • Oliver Miller says:

      i think thats desperate to claim racism in this instance. the guy is not being professional by owning up to his obligations when he signed his contract, end of story. Extenuating circumstances only take u so far, if your black or white it doesnt matter.
      he may be only 19, but hes gonna have to grow up fast

    • sg says:

      how is this article racist or condescending in any way. I wont agree with every single specific point Fran made. BUT how can anyone here justify how White is going at the rockets? Anxiety is serious and thats something that I definitely feel for him and wish him the best. But hes clearly an IDIOT. who the heck talks smack about their employers who have taken MAJOR initiative to help the kid? and he bashes them on twitter, just sounds like another spoiled brat that feels entitled to not just special treatment (because thats fine considering special cases) BUT preferential specific treatment based on what he wants and how he wants to go about it. thats not for him to decide, they set out guidelines in his contract to accomodate for him but he only wants it the way he wants it. Regarldess, still no racism whatsoever. If your parent or sibling or spouse had some sort of major disorder that would most likely hinder them from a job opprotunity, and 1 team takes that gamble and accomodates for them and does their best to set up a strategy to help them have a productive career, is it Fair for your loved one to PUBLICLY critisize them for not doing it THEIR way. comon, he should make his own NBA .

  5. White is being childish says:

    Didn’t this guy get optioned to the D-League? Sounds like someone is a little butthurt he isnt starting.

    I have sympathy for his disorder, but he isn’t doing anything to fix the issues it is causing, so I no longer have sympathy for HIS disorder.

    Cut him.

  6. Gordon A says:

    Whether or not White ever plays consistently or even lasts very long in the league, I still believe the Rockets made a good pick. Morey is right in thinking that he is a top five talent and if he can ever get his problems sorted out (fingers crossed) and work in harmony with the Rockets then he could be a great player.

  7. Rob says:

    He’s making this harder for himself and his team mates. Don’t declare for the draft if you’re unprepared for the life the NBA.

  8. J says:

    Anxiety is based upon trust issues; thus his behavior (whether on twitter or on a plane) is his disorder, therefore i dont think hes making it harder for himself bc he was open about his disorder before the rockets drafted him.

  9. I have struggled with anxiety and panic attacks all of my life and I was intrigued by White’s story. Unfortunately for him and the millions who suffer from anxiety, we all still have jobs and responsibilities. If I had the talent and physical gifts to play a professional sport, I would FORCE myself on that plane every single time. I think he’s still really immature and is going to need to learn some willpower. I would love to see him pull it together and move beyond just raising anxiety awareness. He needs to become a role model. That won’t happen until he starts playing games and doing his job.

  10. me says:

    I don’t think y’all understand what an anxiety disorder is, this dude is PARANOID. Not just of airplanes but of some other things as well, I just hope he pulls through and overcomes it. And if he does he will truly be an inspiration to others out there. And ppl need to chill cos if he had a physical disability that everyone could see no one would be dissing him or his comments, but a disability is still a disability mental or physical

  11. TV63 says:

    It’s too bad no one can seem to reach this guy. He will make it more difficult for other future NBA draft prospects who may also have mental disorders to get picked on draft night. I don’t understand why he would refuse to go to a doctor. Doctor could really help him to get healthy!

    • Chris says:

      He has his own doctor that he is more comfortable with. That being said, I dont see why he can’t see both of them. He is really impeding on his own destiny for a team willing to reach out to him. Of course, the team is concerned about their self-interest as well but I think the Rockets seem to want to benefit mutually from helping this kid.

  12. caccc says:

    what a fool, its a privilege to be playing in the nba. this guy is ungrateful. kick him out!!!!!! there are tons of other people willing to take his pay and make over 500K. yeah playing basketball must be really stressing the guy out. this guy irritates me

  13. they should have traded Him insted of Lamb

  14. Smiley says:

    Don’t know what more this guy expects the rockets to do, build a highway for his exclusive use? i mean the rockets already gave him A JOB, pay for his transportation TO WORK hiring EXTRA driver/babysitter that the team otherwise wouldn’t have hired, AND appoint a doctor for him, which the organization probably paid for. So what did Royce do for the Rockets? Refuse the doctor, skips work, and then chills on twitter posting negative comments about the organization that he works for. If he was so concerned about his health, perhaps he shouldn’t have sought out a job that required traveling to 29 different cities half the year.

  15. C says:

    Boohoo….you’re only missing out on your dream job, why wouldn’t this have been taken care of and dealt with long before being drafted?

  16. baba says:

    Sad because I like this guy’s skill set. But he will be too hard too handle as a player, it is showing now even in his young career. What do you guys think can the organization do to better help him?