Royce White: NBA Must Address Flying, Other Mental Health Issues

Royce White has a severe fear of flying, which has prevented the talented rookie forward of the Houston Rockets from getting his NBA career off the ground. More significantly, White said his playing career will stay grounded until the NBA creates a protocol for teams to treat players with mental defects.

Because the Rockets have no formal game plan on how to work with White’s anxiety disorder, he said the chances are “very high” he will never play in the league. He and the team are at a stalemate on how to handle his delicate situation, leaving White on the sideline.

“The reality is that it is not Houston’s fault,” White said on SiriusXM’s “Off the Dribble” show. “As much as we always want to try and blame one side or the other, they’ve been thrown into a position now where they’re forced to make things up as they go, because a protocol has not been put in place for mental health up until this point.”

The Rockets are trying to accommodate the No. 16 pick in June’s NBA draft. They and White have consulted mental health experts for a plan that would allow White to travel to road games via bus or car.

In the meantime, the Rockets have asked White to play for their D-League team, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, but the player has refused. His frustrations with the situation mounts, but he insists he would like to be a Rocket.

“I don’t really think going to another team is something that would be better,” White, 21, said on the SiriusXM show. “And it’s not something that I want to do. I want to play for Houston. I love the city of Houston. Since I’ve been here, the fans have been nothing but supportive — that I’ve met in person. Twitter has been different. The fans that I’ve met in person have been supportive.

“The community here is great. I have a lot of friends that work in the organization, in the building, that aren’t even related to practice or the game, so to speak. So I have no intention or desire to play for another team.”

Besides, his concerns would exist with any other team.

“There’s no mental health protocol here, for not only the Rockets but the entire league, really,” he said. “I expressed that that’s really unsafe if you think about it. So, basically, I’m fighting to have that rectified. I just don’t think it is OK or responsible or even logical to have GMs or any front office personnel have executive authority in medical situations.”

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