For most entrees in the NBA Draft, hearing your name called is a surreal experience. After years of sweat, competition and sacrifice, a draftee’s hard work is rewarded with the opportunity to play in the NBA.
Although his dream had come true, it also meant that he would have to try and adapt to a new lifestyle that might be hindered by his anxiety disorder. He has been particularly open about this condition on Twitter, going as far as “confronting” noted basketball journalist Adrian Wojnarowski about a critical article.
White is extremely active on Twitter, retweeting detractors, responding to tweets and overall maintaining a steady presence throughout the day it seems. His tweets tend to have a consistent topic: he vents and talks about his ongoing situation with the Rockets.
Essentially, White has had very little contact with the team at times, and due to his anxiety issue, he has requested that they make special accommodations that include a bus for away games that he offered to pay for. Because he's been so forthcoming about the ongoing problem on Twitter, most observers feel White is looking for attention rather than help.
Most criticism against White stems from his constant usage of social media to vent and passionately address his disorder, something that the aforementioned Wojnarowski article suggests could mean the end of his career.
So considering his daily textual bombardment, which many might say is attention seeking, does this mean that White has essentially tweeted his way out of people feeling sorry for him?
In some people’s eyes, especially the eyes of executives around the league, probably yes. When it comes to what the public thinks, it’s impossible to quantify such a true consensus in regards to this issue, but the prevailing thought seems to be, “Yes, we’re sick of seeing his tweets about his problem.”
Twitter and social media in the hands of a narcissist is like having your eyes and ears assaulted. Now of course, this is by no means an attempt to call White a narcissist, but the fact that he constantly talks about it and puts in a public medium like Twitter, people might interpret his diatribes as the writings of a self-absorbed, about-be-a-millionaire seeking pity. To some people, his posts are no different than the guy using Facebook or Twitter to complain about his relationship troubles; but rather than keeping it to himself, he decides to plaster it on social media.
However, White’s generalized anxiety disorder is no joke; it’s a serious issue, and just because he’s being paid a lot of money it doesn’t make his problem any less genuine.
Mental illness is a serious problem in our society and his story reminds us that people of all walks of life, sizes, colors and creeds are affected by it. This is an issue that transcends whatever arbitrary barriers we construct; this is a human issue, and one that deserves attention. That being said, there are better ways that White can handle this issue, and constantly talking about business matters between himself and the Rockets in public as he’s doing is not the way to do it.
There’s nothing wrong with using Twitter, but it may be in White’s best interests to treat the situation like a professional. White is paid a lot of money to provide the Rockets with a service, and if he doesn’t provide it, it doesn’t mean they should invest in helping him. Sure, White’s situation is serious, but White should understand that perception is everything.
White should be wary of what these Twitter rants might say to the rest of the league. Although he is one of the more talented players in the draft, most league execs wouldn’t dare touch someone that could be detrimental to team chemistry or not even be a productive member.
NBA players struggling with mental illness is nothing new, Metta World Peace (a.k.a. Ron Artest) lauded his therapist for helping him overcome with a lot of his issues, and we’ve seen Delonte West struggle with his bipolar disorder time and time again.
However, the sad fact remains that White has yet to prove himself in the league, and because of that, he needs to understand that a team may not invest in giving him special requests. If White can meet with the Rockets halfway and at least compromise, perhaps then he can finally find some semblance of peace in this transitional time from amateur athlete to professional.
No one questions the seriousness of White’s issues, but he has to tone down his presence on social media and engage in meaningful dialogue rather than repetitive monologues. There is nothing wrong with honesty and passion, but tact and professionalism have to precede the former, and until White consistently does so, it’s likely most won’t feel sorry for him.