When a player is selected in the NBA Draft, he is granted the opportunity of a lifetime. He will be paid millions of dollars to play the sport he loves and live the dream of millions across the globe.
His is an unfortunate instance in which White's impasse with the Rockets will not lead to a happy ending.
White has a high-profile case of severe anxiety and a fear of flying (via CBS Sports). As a result of his conditions, White previously made the request that the team allows him to travel by bus to a majority of games (via ESPN).
No matter how geographically improbable that may be.
According to Mark Berman of Fox 26 Sports in Houston, the latest development in the saga has seen the Rockets send the rookie and two other players to their D-League affiliate. As the other players welcome the move, White has subsequently responded by not showing up to practice.
A move that White helplessly attempts to defend. White said,
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.
With all due respect to White and what he's going through, this has officially crossed the line of outrageous. White is far from the first rookie to be delegated to the D-League, which has absolutely nothing to do with his disorders.
In fact, being sent to the D-League should provide White with the opportunity to grow alongside his teammates.
Unfortunately, the former Iowa State Cyclone does not appear inclined to take the steps the organization has asked of him. Instead, he is placing his career in jeopardy as he seemingly expects everything to be handed to him.
These are actions that will lead to an unhappy ending in Houston.
Who is in the Wrong?
The question at this moment in time is simple: who is in the wrong?
Royce White's battle with severe anxiety and a fear of flying is well documented. The question is, did White make it clear to teams during his pre-draft interviews that he'd have such extreme demands?
If he failed to, this rests on him alone. If he relayed this information, it's all on the Houston Rockets.
There is no way around the fact that Houston made a commitment to White when it selected him on draft night. In turn, the organization should be going out of its way to get him the help that he needs from a mental standpoint.
With that being said, White is slapping the organization in the face by not appearing at practice.
Mental conditions aside, White is not yet ready for the NBA game. He's an unproven rookie from a relatively small school.
White also plays for an organization that has a long history of taking this approach with their youth. Marcus Morris can attest to that (via The Houston Chronicle).
What White is going through cannot be overlooked as meaningless. Instead, his conditions must be addressed and treated as they deserve to be.
With that being said, the way he is acting out towards the organization can be described in one word: childish.
Not the First Controversy
For those unfamiliar with Royce White's basketball career, this is not the first time he has faced controversy. Instead, this is yet another development in a saga which began when he was expelled by the University of Minnesota for laptop theft (via USA Today).
One can't help but root for White to succeed. When issues like this begin to mount, however, how can we expect an NBA franchise to display patience?
No matter how talented he may be, White has been the source of controversy for over two years. It was a major reason he fell down draft boards and it is now the reason that the Rockets are running of patience.
Keep in mind, White also missed the opening days of training camp due to his personal restrictions on how he travels (via Fox Sports). If you can't stay out of trouble on your own, how can you expect an NBA organization to believe in you?
Spoiler alert: you can't.
Taking a Privilege for Granted
I sympathize with anyone who suffers from severe anxiety or a fear of flying. I feel nothing but disgust, however, when a young man enters the NBA and displays the belief that it is the organization which is fortunate in this situation.
The truth of the matter is, Royce White has the rare privilege to play in the NBA. While millions work on their games, dreaming of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, White is taking it for granted.
Instead of embracing the process of reaching his dreams, he is risking his career entirely. By holding out of practice, White is creating the image that he demands everything to be handed to him on a silver platter.
Just as Marcus Morris did a year ago, it's time White accepts the process. If he's unable to swallow his pride and do so, walking away from the NBA entirely appears to be the only option.
This is a sad turn of events for young man with All-NBA-caliber ability.