Royce White: Playing in D-League Is Great Step for Rookie's Career with Rockets

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 9, 2013

TARRYTOWN, NY - AUGUST 21:  Royce White #30 of the Houston Rockets poses for a portrait during the 2012 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot at the MSG Training Center on August 21, 2012 in Tarrytown, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

It's encouraging that Royce White is inching his way toward making his NBA regular-season debut with the Houston Rockets.

Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reported that White is headed to the Rockets' D-League affiliate, the Rio Grade Valley Vipers. Per Feigen:

Rockets rookie Royce White moved a step closer to reporting Monday to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA Development League by passing a physical Friday, athletic trainer Keith Jones said.

White and the Rockets reached an agreement that allowed him to work out for several weeks before reporting in time for games Tuesday and Wednesday.

White's issues with his fear of flying and anxiety disorder have been well publicized.

They've helped to build a rocky relationship between the Rockets and White.

When Houston drafted him, the organization knew what it was getting into in regard to his fear of flying and general anxiety issues.

That news came out before the NBA draft.

It was a bit gutsy of White to reveal something that important with millions of dollars possibly on the line.

It's a very delicate problem since White hasn't simply been a petulant rookie refusing to play. His problems are tied to mental health, so it's understandable that he would want to feel totally comfortable before being placed in a pressure-packed situation like an NBA game.

On one hand, you feel for White.

It's hard to imagine the kind of crippling anxiety he must suffer from at times.

Then, on the other hand, the Rockets have tried extremely hard at times to cater to his needs and set him up with the help he requires, only for White to blow off a meeting with a doctor or something.

The rookie would then be very open on Twitter about his grievances, thus allowing the whole world to take a peek at something that should stay behind closed doors.

It's hard to fault either side in their handling of the dilemma. The fact that it could be reaching its conclusion is wonderful news.

White possibly playing in the NBA is significant on two fronts.

First, there's what he can contribute to the Houston Rockets.

He's a very skilled ball-handler and passer for somebody who is 6'8". White is also strong and a solid rebounder.

Houston finds itself sitting in the eighth spot in the Western Conference, two games ahead of the Portland Trail Blazers. Adding White to the lineup could improve the Rockets' place in the standings and position them even better for a postseason run.

Off the court, there's the effect of having somebody with such public anxiety issues making a positive contribution on the court. There are too many Americans who suffer from the same problems that White does.

It's a great success story to those people that have some form of an anxiety disorder.

Those issues don't have to prevent you from doing the things that you love.

Even if White flames out as a pro, the awareness that he's raised about mental health issues have been invaluable.

Here's to hoping he can get it all together and have an extremely productive career in the league.