Posted March 19, 2013

Royce White: NBA, Rockets ‘want me gone’

Adam Silver, Ben Golliver, Daryl Morey, David Stern, Houston Rockets, Royce White
Royce White says he could soon join the Rockets' D-League affiliate.

Royce White has yet to suit up for the Rockets. (Fernando Medina/Getty Images)

By Ben Golliver

Royce White, recently reinstated after a months-long dispute with Houston’s management over the treatment of his mental health, said this week that he believes the NBA and the Rockets would prefer to move on without him.

In a video interview with The Huffington Post, White, who was recently assigned to the Rockets’ D-League affiliate, explained his reasoning, citing his independent voice and the inefficiency of properly treating players with mental health conditions.

“I went through the bumps and bruises of having to advocate for myself against a billion-dollar corporation. Other than that, I think I’ve actually been successful, if you look at the rate of success, or what could have went wrong. I could have easily been out of the league or blackballed or things like that. But that hasn’t happened yet…

“I’m a problem because I’m not afraid to say what I think and I’m not afraid to stand alone. Even amongst the NBA community, the players, the union, the NBA office, and [commissioner] David Stern and [deputy commissioner] Adam Silver. I’m not afraid to stand alone in my own circle, and say, hey listen, you guys aren’t respecting mental health…

“If I was to make an educated guess, I would guess that Adam Silver and David Stern and the Rockets organization, some other owners in the league, GMs, want me gone. And why do they want me gone? Because business is about convenience, it’s not about doing what’s necessary, right? It’s about cutting overhead… Being efficient. And a lot of times, what’s best for us as human beings doesn’t meet that criteria for business people.”

The Rockets and White issued a joint statement in late-January announcing that White has been reinstated following a suspension that was imposed on Jan. 6 and he reported to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in February, where he’s averaging 9.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 12 games. He has not yet been called up to the Rockets.

The joint statement read: “The Houston Rockets and Royce White have today reached an agreement that addresses the major issues that they have been discussing, provides a new start, and gives Royce the best opportunity for long term success as a Houston Rocket. This has been a learning process for both parties. The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association have approved the settlement. Royce is no longer suspended and is re-instated effective immediately. He will report to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers on February 11, 2013.”

The Houston Chronicle reported that the agreement included specific protocols for treating his mental health that he had requested.

The No. 16 pick in the 2012 NBA draft twice refused assignments to the Vipers earlier this season. Back in November, he stopped attending Rockets games and practices and he remained away from the organization until he joined the Vipers last month.

In January, HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel aired a feature on White, in which he called for a formalized protocol to handle his mental health treatment, as he suffers from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, panic attacks and a fear of flying. White also sought the appointment of an independent doctor — “a medical point person” — who would make the determination on whether or not he would be cleared to play.

To HBO, White painted the mental health protocol as a matter of life and death, saying that he was prepared to walk away from his NBA career if it came to that.

“If I was an NBA player now without the protocols and safety measures,” he said, “I would be risking my health, risking my life. What comes along with mental health if left untreated? Alcohol abuse, marijuana abuse, suicidal behavior, homicidal behavior, those are things I’m not willing to risk to play basketball, to have money, to have fame. That’s it.”

With his doctor, White drafted a protocol that included an “acknowledgement” that “mental illness/disability as being in the category of medical condition,” meaning any absences resulting from mental health issues would be treated like an injury.

“If your orthopedist says Royce’s left toe has a crack in it, he shouldn’t run or jump against the Lakers tonight, you can’t run or jump against the Lakers tonight,” White told HBO. “The only difference is you can’t see mine. There’s no swelling, so to speak. It’s not purple.”

In a November letter to White revealed during the HBO feature, Rockets GM Daryl Morey expressed a desire to accommodate White’s requests but also some frustration with his absence.

“We have bent over backwards to accommodate your requests and help you meet these goals,” the letter read. “At our meeting yesterday, I spent significant time addressing your frustrations. I would like to take this opportunity to further explain how your actions and the changing nature of your explanations for your actions has frustrated our attempts to help you meet your goals. The bottom line is that we remain willing to work with you on issues that arise from legitimate medical need, but you have to come to games, practice and everything else that you are able to do, just like any other player.”

44 comments
JonathanD
JonathanD

If these commenters had read very much of what Royce White has to say, they'd see they're doing an incredible job of proving him right.There are good arguments to be made against White's theories, but they're certainly not being made by you guys. 

GettinBizzee
GettinBizzee

To all of you aggravated by Royce White, just thank your lucky stars you’re not one of his D league teammates who’s had to deal  with all this!!!

JasonLeBel
JasonLeBel

As someone who was diagnosed with ADD, Anxiety, and Depression, White needs to Man Up and not expect everyone to bend to his needs. Yes he has issues that he needs help with, but from what I've read, he wants everyone else to conform to his issues, without making any personal sacrifices.

 

I'm getting tired of his whining. If they're not bending over enough for you, go get a regular job

eddiej
eddiej

Why is it he's always trying to equate a psych. problem to a broken toe/bone.It's not the same thing .For one thing bones heal,psych. doesn't.Meds. help only if the person is equally trying to get better.Also he better remember the Rockets can sue,and most likely win to annull his contract.Then he would be a broke person with psych. problems. I can say I have PTSD with Compulsive Tendancies but his mouth and actions will hurt those trying to get better care/help.

MikelArtist
MikelArtist

 

your 6"8 - 6"9  nba player guy.... scared of heights and airplane..... what the...F.... are you... stupid....almost of the young kids like to ride airplane... you better stay in your mothers house and wear diaper... ok... you have no place in nba... if i was the gen manager of houston rockets.... i will hire you to play to wnba.. houston comets... bwahahaha...

Ramon
Ramon

i won't even continue to read this article.  i hate to see someone suffer but the fact is, this guy can't produce....the nba is about production.  if you can't fly why would you try out for the nba?  all they do is fly.  this guy suffers but he gets on my nerves.  i think he still has himself a good chunk.  probably enough to retire actually.  i hate to see someone suffer but this guy just can't produce.

PWINGS
PWINGS

From the HBO Real Sports interview and commentary, the bone of contention between the Rockets and White was over the 3rd party consultant being the sole arbitor in determining whether White was fit to play. The Rockets were willing to have this mental health specialist be a "consultant" and contribute to the discussion. However, White was insistent that the consultant he approved of was the ONLY one making the decision.

 

I see a couple of problems here:

1) If the consultant has to be approved by White, the Rockets have as much right to question the consultant's impartiality as White has to question the impartiality of a team doctor or psychiatrist.

 

2) White wants the mental health consultant to have the final authority as to whether he is fit to play or should sit. What happens when the consultant says that White IS fit to play and White disagrees and refuses to play. Is White willing to agree that a consultant's diagnosis that White is "jaking it" and has no legitimate reason for refusing to play / fly or will he question the consultant's "impartiality"?

 

I can understand the Rockets frustration with White and I agree that his demands are unrealistic. I agree that a mental health specialist should have a valued voice in the discussion between team reps. But the ONLY voice? No!

 

I think that any psychiatrist who is trying to help White should be directing their efforts to helping White adapt to his work environment and improve his play rather than coercing the Rockets into paying for services not rendered.

PWINGS
PWINGS

The problem seems to be that White is expecting the reality of the workplace to conform to his condition, limitations and needs rather than his being willing to try to adapt and adjust to the workplace. I thought the goal of therapy was to assist the patient in adapting to their condition and their environment. This being the case, White is indeed a poor "spokesman" for others with mental health issues as he is giving potential employers more reasons to be apprehensive about hiring these people. If he really wanted to be of service to these people, he would demonstrate the ability to adapt and overcome, not complain and control.

 

Personally, I feel sorry for Kevin McHale (Rockets GM) and Fred Hoiberg (Iowa State coach). They both put their reputations on the line by acting as advocates for White. In the end, White may cost McHale his job. Hoiberg will certainly have a hard time being taken seriously the next time he acts as an advocate for a player with "issues".

swh114
swh114

White's analogy of a cracked tow is complete false. The team is "responsible" for injuries that occur while playing basketball for the team. If Royce broke hit foot while skiing, he could make so such claim about the responsibilities of the Rockets or the NBA. His "injury" was not sustained in the performance of his job duties and he therefore has nothing to complain about.

MattEast
MattEast

This man has the mentality of a victim.  He is being paid Millions of dollars to do what he is told. No one else in the workplace can be completely insubordinate and get what they want. quit being a baby and making excuses for your childlike behavior. #MANUP

muser
muser

Be gone soon. What a sad example of an entitled teenager.  

duckfan59
duckfan59

If you can't get on an airplane you probably don't belong in the NBA. But keep playin' the victim card guy that no one has ever heard of that thinks he's the #1 pick.

Horstradamus
Horstradamus

I can sympathize with his condition. He should not be making assumptions about how the Rockets and NBA feel though. My daughter also suffers from anxiety AND is also not qualified to play in the NBA. If he isn't able to do the job, then I guess he should look into another line of work where he can be successful.

matt7
matt7

Good letter by Daryl.

tigercub88
tigercub88

The Americans with Disability act requires that an employee be able to perform "the essential functions of a job" with or without "reasonable accommodations." The accommodations are the employer's responsibility while being able to perform the essential functions are the responsibility of the employee. It is not at all clear EITHER that Royce White CAN perform the essential functions of the job OR that there exists a reasonable accommodation. This will not end well for Mr. White. No one has a birthright to a particular job. Perhaps Mr. White needs to look at other career options. He seems to be a well spoken and intelligent young man with a gift for fighting for a cause so perhaps community organizing is an area of interest? After all, another young man with no discernable accomplishments or academic achievements was able to take that experience and turn it into another pretty good gig.

geeon1
geeon1

Funny thing is his play doers not warrant his call up 9.6 points? 5.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists in the "d" League??? Improve your attitude and your play and maybe you will be brought back. Right now, you are not worth the call up.

thatmanstu
thatmanstu

Whatever his problems,if he cannot be a productive member of a professional basketball team,then he must choose  a new line of work. I wish him good luck in coping and conquering his problems. However,the Houston Rockets are responsible only for determining whether or not they wish to continue to employ him as a player,all things considered. If they do not,perhaps another team will.  If not,Royce White will join the rest of the hundreds of millions of us ,who for various reasons are unable to meet the standards of play of the NBA.

PrinceNguyen
PrinceNguyen

NBA --- NO BABIES ALLOWED! Just like Denzel said, Man Up NeeGAH

BARRYWINDHAM
BARRYWINDHAM

I commend the guy  for being honest even before the draft about his anxiety and compulsive disorders. The Rockets DID NOT HAVE TO draft him. I'm tired of people always siding with the teams when they have people paid 6 figures or more to analyze the hell out of a player before they draft them. The whole 1-and-done rule is in place because lazy GMs  getting paid millions (who also have a staff)  could not adequately judge a high school kid so they then need to see them in college for at least a year. Why are they making all this money if they don't know the risk they take in drafting a player?

Alford
Alford

This guy is crippled by the fear that he is not good enough to play in the NBA, and this is his way of blaming his failure to produce on someone other than himself.

pagekgkl
pagekgkl

I am quite sure Royce White is not the first player in NBA history to have a fear of flying or suffer from anxiety. Yet, they (other players) somehow managed to overcome. How did they do it? The guy obviously has talent, or Houston probably would have washed their hands of him long ago. Perhaps having drafted him, the Rockets want to protect themselves from an ADA lawsuit. Royce White, on the other hand is painting himself as some type of aggrieved party or victim.

 

Hey, I am all for advocating for yourself; just do it a lot more privately. The job description calls for traveling most often by air. Since, 42 games a year are on the road in the NBA, what are the Rockets supposed to do, have all home games?  Why does someone who professes to suffer from such debilitating anxiety continue to promote his "mental health" issues so blatantly? Dude, get the help you need to do your job. Truly,  if... if it’s such a hardship, get another job! Playing in the NBA is not a birthright.  Me thinks the man doth protest too loudly.

JonathanWoyke
JonathanWoyke

I honestly forgot about this guy until this article, and then it all came back like some bad mexican food. Dude GET OVER IT. There are NUMEROUS athletes with mental health issues. Look at Delonte West, Metta World Peace, people deal with it and move on. This dude on the other hand acts like he was like a a number 1 draft pick that is the best thing to happen to the league. He wants a personal doctor that the team has to pay for, on top of his salary that they are not getting anything in return for?. They are trying to be decent by letting him play in the D league. Any other job would have let this dude go. and if he filed a labor law complaint, the Commissioner would look at the case and see that hes made no effort to work (play) or to assist in accomodations allowing him to do is job, and theyd likely dismiss the complaint. Why he thinks hes entitled to some hand out beats me but really, get this guy out of the league. Hes a complete embarassment to himself, players, and people with mental challenges, and while i dont know the extent of his "illness" most of those are easily controlled by minor medication, and a splash of man up and self control so like said below STFU and get the F out of the NBA

Charles19
Charles19

Lots of teams make concessions to assist players with medical issues.  But those players still have to be willing to get on the court and produce.  White's not showing any willingness to get on the floor and produce.

 

To be bluntly honest, this may just not be the profession for him.  I'm 5'10" and flabby - it's not the right profession for me either.  At a certain point, you have to recognize that being a profession athelete requres superior physical and mental strength and conditioning.  They're the very best of the best - the overwhelming majority of us don't come close to qualifying for competition at that level.  White might be better off to seek employment in a more suitable field.

ZachBregman
ZachBregman

So basically White is saying that he wants the right to have his own personal doctor tell the Rockets (the people paying him millions) when he will/will not play. I think Royce is setting an entirely different precedent than he intended. The next time a player with a mental disorder is available I have a feeling he will be selected a whole lot lower thanks to White being such a drama queen.

robert O
robert O

If youworkon a cruise ship but get violently sea sick, you can't work. Case closed!

pagekgkl
pagekgkl

From everything I have read, including this article, I would agree that the NBA, Rockets and countless others might actually want you gone, not, however because of your mental health condition, but because of your incessant attention-seeking. Admittedly, I am not privy to the inner workings, etc. but it seems that the Rockets are making a good faith effort to accommodate you. If they wanted your ass gone, you would be gone. So, STFU and play or be gone! I'm not the Rockets, or the NBA, and I'm tired of your sh*t myself.

JonathanD
JonathanD

 @JasonLeBel Not making any personal sacrifices?  Dude, he's putting his entire NBA career in jeopardy.  What you meant to say was, "Not making any personal sacrifices in order to satisfy my entertainment whims."

CoreyRSanity
CoreyRSanity

 @PWINGS McHale is the coach. Morey is the GM. I don't like McHale as a coach but this will not affect his job in any way.

pagekgkl
pagekgkl

 @tigercub88 i liked everything you said up until the political cheap-shot. Let me name at least one academic achievement of B.O. fyi: President of the Harvard Law Review. Just saying

geeon1
geeon1

@thatmanstu That is his problem he has no other options but Basketball. I am quite sure his "college" education is severely lacking in courses that could translate over to a career.

Marc8
Marc8

 @BARRYWINDHAM Royce White told the Rockets that his mental illness was a non-issue. The Rockets go ahead and draft him, cool. However, he signed his NBA rookie contract knowing about the protocols and rules that were set in place in the NBA for mental illnesses, which there practically were not any. HE DID NOT HAVE TO SIGN IT. It was only after he signed that he started making demands for protocols to be put in place and refusing to provide services as he said he would after he signed his contract. To me, that was pretty shady.

Horstradamus
Horstradamus

That's a pretty ignorant thing to say about someone you don't know. His illnesses are real. He may not be qualified to play in the NBA but don't go making armchair diagnoses without training or evidence.

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

 @Alford And apparently Royce White's therapist hangs out on the SI forums. 

JasonLeBel
JasonLeBel

 @JonathanD  How the heck did he make it through playing College ball, when he can't play for a D-League team (lot less pressures (no grades to keep up), good chance they have similar travel arrangements)? From everything I've read (and today there was an article saying he left the D-League), he wants everyone to bend over backwards for him. What has he been willing to do personally to deal with his issues?My entertainment whims? He couldn't satisfy them. 

PWINGS
PWINGS

 @CoreyRSanity The HBO Real Sports segment on White described that McHale had been Fred Hoiberg's (White's college coach @ Iowa State) coach when Hoiberg played in the NBA. Hoiberg was able to convince McHale that White was worth the risk. Hoiberg had heart problems when he played in the NBA and trusted that McHale would be sympathetic to Whote's mental issues. So McHale was the one who encouraged the Rockets to take a chance and draft White. The statement that McHale was the GM was my error. I still feel that McHale compromised his job security by going to bat for White regardless of whether he is the coach or GM. Thanks for the correction.

CoreyRSanity
CoreyRSanity

 @PWINGS Oh and after the Harden trade, the Asik signing and  the Thomas Robinson theft, I'm pretty sure Morey is just as safe.

Ken25
Ken25

 @Marc8  @BARRYWINDHAM

 Dead on Marc.  Do your home work Barry.  They asked this dude repeatedly if ANY of the NBA protocols would be an issue and he said no, probably knowing the rockets were his last option.  He signed the contract knowing he could/would not live up to the terms as is. Even after when issues did arise the Rockets still tried to make things work with the dude, but instead of working with them he went to the media.  Look, I had some sympathy for this guy in the beginning, but when he acknowledged reading and aggreeing to the contract and telling them it would be fine I've lost all sympathy.  This guy is just whining at this point.

 

Alford
Alford

 @Horstradamus That's my opinion. I just don't understand how he was able to get it done in college but not in the NBA.

JonathanD
JonathanD

 @JasonLeBel He CAN make it with a D-League team, just like he made it through college ball, and just like he'd be able to make it through the NBA.  The point he's making is that he wants to make it through healthy, not screw himself up so bad that he ends up shooting himself in 10 years or dying as a penniless drug addict, as so many former pro athletes do.  The reason he wants teams to make so many accommodations for him is because he thinks the system screws a lot of people up, and he wants to change the system.

TravisBrown
TravisBrown

 @PWINGS  Hoiberg never played again in the NBA after his heart condition was discovered. So nobody ever took a chance on him after that. He nearly made a comeback to become the first player in the NBA to play with a pacemaker, but he decided it wasn't worth the risk.