Royce White Admits He May Never Play in the NBA

Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistJanuary 3, 2013

Oct 17, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Royce White (30) runs up court against the Memphis Grizzlies during the fourth quarter at the Toyota Center. The Rockets won 109-102. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports
Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Royce White isn't in the NBA right now, and he himself has admitted that's a reality that may never change.

In a recent radio interview with Sirius XM's Off The Dribble show, White (via Kurt Heilin of NBC Sports' ProBasketballTalk) was very candid about what his future may or may not hold:

White admitted there is a chance he would never play in the NBA. He said it worked in college because there were fewer games and far less travel — he had 15 flights in college, there were 96 scheduled flights for the Rockets this season.

Listening to White didn’t make this sound any closer to getting dealt with. He feels that this stand is something he has to take, the Rockets are not looking like they are going to make more concessions. White may not play for this season at least, maybe longer.

Which in the end feels irrational for everyone involved.

Regardless of which side of the fence you stand on (if you've even picked one), White's sentiments are nothing short of tragic. Not because he's refusing to join the Rockets in any capacity and not because Houston is refusing to make any more concessions. But because in White, we have a superior athlete, a potentially versatile star and most importantly, a human being.

First and foremost, we must remember that White is a person suffering from an illness that is actually threatening his livelihood.

Expressing disappointment in his absence from the court is fine. Demonstrative displays of disdain or demanding he be traded is not. It's churlish, for one, but it's also not the answer:

Plenty of Rockets fans are calling for him to be traded, something not likely because Houston couldn’t get anything for him even if they wanted to move him, and there are no signs they do.

“I don’t see how going to another team will help anything, the protocol still needs to be in place. It’s not Houston’s fault…” White said. “I want to be in Houston. I love the city and the fans I’ve met in person have been supportive.”

It's not as if White is completely indifferent to the state of his team, teammates or the fans that are aching to see him play. Even at what has been considered at his worst, the rookie has been genuinely apologetic.


Because he wants to play. He wants to find that structure, that sense of alleviation that will allow him to return to the floor. This isn't some personal vendetta of his that he's carrying out against the Rockets:

But his Thursday radio interview he made it clear it’s not personal, he sees this as the kind of workplace safety issue we’ve all seen around the office.

The other thing that becomes clear is this is all about power and who has it.

“This is about who — in general — has executive authority in medical situations…” White said during the interview with Justin Termine and former NBA player Mateen Cleaves. “Right now a GM does not have to listen to the medical advice of even his own doctors.”

Again, we must remember that at the heart of this issue, there is a man. Not just a player or teammate, but an actual person.

Agreeing with the manner in which White has handled this matter is not necessary. We don't even have to side with the Rockets.

We just have to understand that White is doing what he believes is right, doing what he believes is best for him.

"There’s right and there’s wrong, and there’s safe and not safe, and right now things are not safe,” White had said.

At present, the only "right" thing for us to do here is keep our thoughts, proverbial well-wishes and hope with White and the Rockets.

A hope that longs to see this conflict reach a collective resolution. A hope that supports a safe and healthy NBA debut for White.

And a hope that also understands this an issue that is bigger, that stretches far beyond the game of basketball.