The Rockets and rookie and Royce White have a plan.
White had missed the first week of training camp as he and the Rockets tried to hammer out a plan (a process White took the blame for not starting earlier).
That plan calls for him to ride in a rented bus (at his expense) to many of the team’s road games next season as a way to help him control the clinically diagnosed General Anxiety Disorder White suffers, which includes a fear of flying. A fear that can be paralyzing.
White praised the Rockets when speaking to the Houston Chronicle, but added part of the delay has been getting the league to sign off on the plan (it doesn’t conform to a normal contract), which is still having the details hammered out.
“We’ll go forward in a good faith deal between me and Rockets, and I’m totally comfortable with that,” said White, who has been absent from camp. “We can find a way to get it into writing at some point. We do have a letter between us. It’s an agreement, not in contract form, but those are technicalities. What the Rockets are doing is astronomically appreciated by me and should be by the mental health community.”
White sounds like someone with a real understanding of the disorder that affects him and how to control it. Part of that is sticking to a routine, something very difficult to do during an NBA season with its extensive travel. Letting White take a bus ride, sometimes of up to nine hours, let’s him sleep and more on a schedule that he thinks will help control the symptoms and panic attacks that come with the disorder.
“My health is actually great right now. I want to keep it that way. The unknown of the season or the schedule can decrease that health. We don’t need something negative to happen. A lot of guys don’t have a stance to attack mental illness on the front end. Some don’t know they have it until something happens. The negative consequences can come. It’s just too risky.”
The Rockets are doing the right thing here — they knew about the condition when they drafted White No. 16 overall. They thought they were stealing a guy with lottery talent, and they may be. Now that there is a plan in place (and there is no way the image-conscious NBA doesn’t sign off on it) maybe we can finally get a good look at what White can do on an NBA court.