Posted December 30, 2012

White rejects D-League assignment, calls Rockets’ officials ‘unqualified’

Ben Golliver, Daryl Morey, Houston Rockets, Royce White

Royce White has refused to report for a D-League assignment. (Fernando Medina/Getty Images)

By Ben Golliver

The Rockets assigned Royce White to their D-League for the second time this season on Saturday. Less than 24 hours later, the rookie forward has refused to report to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers for the second time.

“I have chosen to not play, because the doctors and I believe it to be unsafe for unqualified Rockets front office personnel to make medical decisions, as they are not mental health professionals,” White said in a statement released on Sunday and obtained by the Houston Chronicle.

The Rockets and White, the No. 16 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, have been engaged in a months-long dispute over the treatment of his anxiety disorder. White has yet to appear in a game this season and has not traveled with the team for weeks. Training camp opened with the player and team attempting to fashion what the rookie forward called a “good faith deal” to help manage his transition to the NBA, as his anxiety disorder makes it difficult for him to fly on airplanes. Shortly after the Rockets previously attempted to assign White to the Vipers in November, the 2012 first-round pick stopped showing up to practices and games and repeatedly expressed frustration with the team’s handling of his generalized anxiety disorder on his Twitter account.

White’s latest statement asserts that the Rockets are not “adhering to medical sensibility” in their treatment of him and implies that the Rockets’ handling of him isn’t being undertaken with his best medical interests in mind.

In hindsight of the recent tragedies in this country, that had mental illness variables, you would think it would encourage people to act more proactively in that arena. You would think that decision makers who are not well informed about mental health, would take the consultation and recommendation of those who are. You would think we would start to do everything possible to not let the tragic consequences befall us first, before we ask the logical question, “why?”, “who knew?” “how could we have helped?. Why not take a proactive approach of “who knows?” “how can we listen?”, “how can we support now?”

I do wish to play, but I only intend to do so with the collaboration and recommendation of trained professionals. The purpose of a doctor’s confirmation is to ensure that health decisions are made in the sole interest of health and not conflicted with business. My only hope is that decision makers involved realize that doctors are the only logical source to decide action.

There is an admitted lack of knowledge on behalf of the Rockets and the NBA, it becomes transparent as they choose to forego the knowledge of trained professionals and make independent decisions for something as complex as mental health without consulting any doctors. The Rockets have told me in recent conversations that it is their right to decline even their own doctors’ recommendations. The concept of not listening to medical consultants in medical situations is alarming. It is also alarming that a player is susceptible to fines for simply adhering to the recommendation of doctors.

White continues by saying that it would be “fundamentally incorrect” to say that the Rockets have supported him and that their representation of the situation has been “extremely misleading” and “totally inaccurate.”

This statement repeats a number of claims made in November, when he publicly questioned the team’s commitment to the terms of a deal that made accommodations for his travel needs, but is a bit stronger in tone.

Hailed for his honesty in coming forward to disclose his anxiety issues in a video documentary, White second-guessed that approach in a statement, via

“In hindsight, perhaps it was not a good idea to be open and honest about my anxiety disorder, due to the current situations at hand that involve the nature of actions from the Houston Rockets. As a rookie, I want to settle into a team and make progress; but since preseason the Rockets have been inconsistent with their agreement to proactively create a healthy and successful relationship. At this point the Rockets are aware of my position and the reason for my absence. Any other response is inaccurate. This is important to me. It is a health issue. I must advocate for my rights. It is a player-commodity league. The failure to meet my requests for support will end with me being unhealthy and that is not a consequence that I am willing to accept to play any sport.”

On his verified Twitter account, @Highway_30, White wrote in November that he is “most [definitely] not AWOL” and that there are “many things [people] don’t know. Honesty is what I’m sticking with.” He also said that his “problem” with the Rockets dated to “WAY before” the team decided to assign him to the D-League in November. He also provided a little clarity of the nature of his issues with the Rockets.

While anxiety is the issue, the main piece of that isn’t AIRPLANES, it’s asking for support [for] my disorder that’s consistent and fair. Again My “Anxiety” is not well but not BAD, my main WORRY is being treated as a digit instead of a HUMAN, in the case of my health.

White also repeatedly cited the Bible verse, Luke 12:3, which stresses the importance of honesty.

Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.

The Rockets have generally avoided responding directly to White’s statements, though some fans and observers were critical of his statements. The Houston Chronicle reported at the time that GM Daryl Morey said only that White was “not available right now” but that owner Leslie Alexander seemed to hint that White’s future with the team could be in jeopardy.

“That’s tenuous,” Alexander said. “It’s tough to talk about something like that. I think we’re going to handle it internally. If he doesn’t work out, well, it’s tough to lose a draft choice.”

The Houston Chronicle also reported that the Rockets fined White for missing mandated therapy sessions.

In November, we wrote here at the Point Forward that the easiest solution was for White to report to the Vipers, as the travel demands there are significantly lighter and playing time should be plentiful. Of course, given White’s condition, that assessment was much easier said than done.

White, 21, signed a rookie contract in July that will pay him $1.6 million this season and $1.9 million in 2013-14. Both years are fully guaranteed.


Mental health is such a tough thing to even comprehend for most people. Yeah the mental health system needs to be looked at, but not just in the USA, in the UK too. 

I'm currently writing a book ( there's a little blurb here ) that is hopefully set to inspire, motivate and educate when it comes to mental health illnesses. I think the first step is to stop making it such a massive taboo subject! Half of the people I know, even friends of mine, wouldn't share a single link to do with my book or project because they don't want to be tarred with the same brush. It's such a shame that people don't realise the implications.



White didn't miss a game last year for Iowa State. He has ruined his career before it really started because he is unreasonable and uncooperative. Cut him and let him work at McDonald's, if he can handle the stress.


Get back to work Amod.

playingitout 1 Like

I know nothing about White's true mental/medical condition... and I don't care to know more. I'm pretty sure most if not all other fans of basketball agree that we're not here to be lectured on mental illness. We pay to see basketball.


I'm pretty sure that by now he's breached his contract more than once. So.... invoke it, get rid of him, then let him seek whatever help he thinks he needs on whatever salary he manages to earn in life outside the NBA. Goodbye Royce. Wish I could say it was nice knowin ya.

Rocketsnation 1 Like

Anxiety disorder? Maybe so but his actions belie the disorder. He should be dealing with the struggle personally, not blowing up the web with his perceived problem. He's creating his own anxiety fuled life while gettin paid a king's fortune. He thinks he's the prom queen only problem is he's never even been to prom. His act's getting old. Wasted pick.

ecdoesit 1 Like

As someone who has anxiety disorder, I have a hard time sympathizing with this guy. Him being on twitter and desperately trying to be a martyr for mental health is disturbing. He's still a kid and I think some of this is immaturity. He's acting like he's the first person in sports to deal with mental issues! The sad thing is, he's getting in his own way and that's preventing him from playing basketball, the one thing that would probably make him happy.

PeterAitch 1 Like

He needs a lawyer and publicist, and he needs to stop talking.


Mental illness is a complex issue not meant for 140 characters, Royce!

aaronfarber9 2 Like

And so ends career.  Watch the Twitter followers decline, which I think his is real priority.

BrownLanet 1 Like

Ban this idiot from the league and don't pay him a dime.


I've watched the Grantland documentary. White seems like he's a good person, but its obvious that the Rockets shouldn't have picked him.

marsof 1 Like

i have anxiety disorder! this is complete bull! it takes commitment and small steps, but from what this guy has been saying, sounds like he's not even committed. its one thing to talk, and a completely different thing to take initiative which this guy obviously hasn't been doing. rockets get your money back and ditch this guy. 

Rickapolis 1 Like

I don't know much about 'anxiety disorder', although I'm sure it is a problem needing serious treatment. But White's statement sounds like a lot of double talk cooked up by his attorneys to me. That is, it sounds like BS. Just reading it offends me. You want to shake your head and laugh out loud when you read stuff like this. Let White be treated as needed, but if he insists on spooning out this kind of nonsense NO ONE will respect it, or him, or his problem, which is too bad because others suffer from it too. Take responsibility for yourself. That's my advice.


One wishes this young man the beast as obviously this life is not an easy one for him (or in truth many of us). Mental illness is the elephant in America's living room. It scares us so because our minds are a mixed bag of wondrous gifts and unexplained behaviors. If in 2013 we each could try to be kinder and more understanding to those frustrate, enrage and trouble us then perhaps life itself might seem less crazy? It would hard to think it might be crazier? 



He is using his mental problems as an excuse for not working, not trying, he just wants a handout.

ChristopherW 2 Like

Fire this clown......he's coo-coo for cocoa puffs...


 @ChristopherW This "clown" is a person who was touched by god athletically but has issues psychologically. If the phrase "coo-coo for cocoa puffs" reflects your intelligence and compassion then perhaps god passed on touching you in any way. 

Shing D
Shing D

It's the same as any other job, the person has to be functional to the point of meeting his/her job duties when REASONABLE accommodations are applied. It's clearly not happening here.

SukeMadiq 3 Like

The can do what they did to Mr. T on the A-Team.  Knock him unconscious every time the need to fly somewhere!!

DaveL 1 Like

He was a nut case at ISU. Why would any team pay this guy money when he refuses to play.

RaptorFan 1 Like

Not gunna play a single game and get paid millions....brilliant! Bur I expect Houston fans to hate him, that 16th pick could have been better used for more immediate help (Andrew Nicholson comes to mind).