When the Houston Rockets selected Royce White in the 2012 NBA draft I knew it was going to be a feast or famine pick. It would either be a huge success or an epic failure. The Rockets were well aware that White suffered form an anxiety disorder and a fear of flying, but assured him they would create a healthy and proactive environment for his unique situation. 5 months later it appears the Rockets have lost patience.
Royce White missed Monday night's game against Miami and Tuesday's practice at the team's usual facilities. Shortly thereafter the Rockets demoted him to the D-League. Without ever playing a minute in the NBA Royce White's basketball career is at a crossroads. Both sides claim they've given the other mutual respect and more than enough latitude to make the situation work, but the relationship seems permanently strained.
From the Rockets perspective they invested a high draft pick and millions of dollars on this this guy. Anxiety disorder or no anxiety disorder it's not unreasonable to expect a professional basketball player to fly with the team when it's absolutely necessary. Preferential treatment only goes so far when it becomes detrimental to the goals of an organization.
From White's perspective all he's asking for is a little consideration here or there. He realizes he won't be able to take the bus to Portland, Miami, or Boston, but taking alternative transportation on shorter road trips (Los Angeles to Phoenix or New York to Philadelphia) shouldn't be a problem. He was up front with his challenges and all he asked for was support in working through his issues.
I can't say anyone is to blame in this scenario. Both sides have a legitimate claim, but the middle ground is hard to find. Where is the compromise? Is Royce White talented enough to be worth all the trouble? Does the league need to step in and implement a new protocol for these special matters? All I know is the Rockets took a gamble that I doubt will ever pay off and I hope Royce gets a 2nd chance to prove himself down the road.