Royce White’s Relationship With The Houston Rockets Is Deteriorating Over His Anxiety Disorder

  • Dylan Murphy

What was once an uplifting story about a man overcoming obstacles to live his NBA dream has now turned into a nightmarish he said-she said battle of wills. Royce White, the Houston Rockets’ first round draft pick, publicly acknowledged his anxiety disorder in a documentary over the summer, and it seemed like the Rockets organization had a plan to deal with it and unleash his vast wealth of talent.

Apparently that was an incorrect assumption.

At least at first, it seemed the Rockets were poised to attack this problem with maturity and patience, and White was willing to accommodate as best he could. So when he missed the first few days of training camp, no one batted an eye. There was an understanding that some things go beyond basketball, and normal protocol could and must be adjusted.

But now all hell’s broken loose, with White firing accusations at his organization and the Rockets playing dumb. It all started with White missing Monday night’s game (it’s worth mentioning that he hasn’t played a minute all season) and practice on Tuesday. The Rockets claimed these absences were unexcused (via the Houston Chronicle):

“The turbulent start of Royce White’s NBA career hit another bump Tuesday. This one will likely have greater repercussions than missing training camp.

With the Rockets planning to send White, a 6-8 forward, along with fellow rookies guard Scott Machado and forward/center Donatas Motiejunas to the NBA Development League, White skipped Monday’s game and Tuesday’s practice amid signs he has not practiced for days. The absences are unexcused, a person with knowledge of the situation said Tuesday.

Rockets acting coach Kelvin Sampson said he did not know why White did not attend Tuesday’s practice and did not speak with him Monday, when Motiejunas and Machado were told of the plans to send them to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

But Rockets owner Leslie Alexander said there have been ‘internal repercussions, which I’m not going to talk about.’

More foreboding, Alexander’s confidence in White’s long-term prospects seem shaken since he expressed enthusiasm for White’s potential during the summer league in Las Vegas.

‘That’s tenuous,’ Alexander said. ‘It’s tough to talk about something like that. I think we’re going to handle it internally. If he doesn’t work out, well, it’s tough to lose a draft choice.'”

Asked how it would hurt the Rockets if a player taken with the 16th pick of the draft did not pan out, Alexander said: ‘I’d feel bad for Royce, and I would feel very bad for the team.'”

White did not take this lying down (via

“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.”

And then to follow up when the news began flying around Twitter last night, he rattled off a series of Tweets.

(There were many, many more Tweets – too many to put here, but check them out if you’re curious.)

This is just a tough situation all around. The Rockets don’t want to feel like they’re being pushed and pulled this way and that for no reason – despite his disorder, White does have certain responsibilities that cannot be ignored. Except White’s claiming that promises were made and not lived up to. But you can almost feel the Rockets positioning themselves to release White down the road, creating a series of excuses that will eventually leverage White’s release enough to mitigate any public relations fallout. Meanwhile White’s seemingly fighting for his own personal rights, which he claims the Rockets are trampling. So here we are, stuck at an impasse, unsure of whom to believe. Hopefully this all gets resolved sooner rather than later.

[Ball Don’t Lie]