Royce White's Twitter Rant: 10 Ignorant Replies

Categories: Game Time, Sports

Into the wind

"Is he worth it?"

In the sports world, it's the answer to that one simple question that ultimately determines the length of a player's shelf life in whatever league he plays in. Extrapolated in more detail and reworded, is the combination of a player's skill set, salary, and performance worth whatever negative baggage (the "it," if you will) he brings with him?

"It" can be discipline issues, baby momma drama, dissatisfaction over playing time, laziness, a variety of things. Most of the time, the "it" has been seen a thousand times before, and the answer to the governing question above -- is he worth it? -- is readily apparent.

However, in the case of Rockets rookie forward Royce White, none of those things is true.

As you probably know, Royce White was drafted by the Rockets back in June with the 16th overall pick in the NBA draft out of Iowa State. The middle of three Rockets first rounders (Jeremy Lamb was picked 12th overall, Terrence Jones 18th), White brought with him a sublime set of basketball skills and a reputation for playing his best games on the biggest stage (see: NCAA Tournament, 2012).

Unfortunately, White also brought with him an anxiety disorder that manifests itself, among other ways, with a severe fear of flying on airplanes, which is kind of an issue when the job you are most qualified for requires you to work at least one night in 29 other cities around the country.

White's condition was no secret to NBA teams, and despite his seeming ability to control it to some degree at Iowa State, it did appear to affect his draft status. After the vouching of White's college coach Fred Hoiberg and, in turn, Hoiberg confidant/Rockets head coach Kevin McHale, Morey decided to take a flyer on White and his top 5-level talent with the 16th overall pick.

Things were going just fine throughout the summer. White, along with the Rockets' other rookies, had a very productive summer league in Vegas, giving hope that this new nucleus would be the foundation for an exciting future. Eventually, the summer gave way to the fall and Rockets' training camp.

And that's where it began to unravel for White and the Rockets -- at training camp. Actually, it didn't unravel so much at training camp because White didn't make it to training camp, at least initially. At the very last minute before the start of camp, White balked on his preseason attendance, and stayed home until he and the Rockets could figure out a long-term plan of attack for dealing with his disorder.

Eventually, White made it into training camp in early October as he and the Rockets agreed to a plan that would allow him to utilize ground transportation to games whenever feasible. Of course, White's absence from camp put him woefully behind from a conditioning and practice standpoint, and McHale was very vocal about White's responsibility in making the unique travel arrangement work:

"Royce is going to have a little bit of a different path in the NBA," McHale said. "If your choice is to have a 10-hour bus ride, or an hour flight, everyone would want to take an hour flight. He's just going to have to work his way through all that stuff.

"We're here to help him and support him as much as we can," McHale said, "but he eventually has to be responsible to your team and your teammates. That's the biggest thing."

What McHale was saying, in not so many words, is Royce White would have to be worth "it." In this case, White's "it" is his anxiety disorder's necessitating time away from the team with hours of wasted ground travel. Through the first couple weeks of the season, White had seen no playing time, but the team hadn't had any major issues with him either (at least, none that were public). So far, so good.

That is, until last Friday.

That's when the team claimed White missed the game against Memphis with migraine headaches, which White openly refuted on Twitter the next day:

(NOTE: Get comfy. Twitter is about to become a major theme here in a minute or so.)

Sunday came, and so did practice. There was only one problem -- no Royce White. Monday came, and so did the game against the Miami Heat, and you can probably see where this one's going -- no Royce White at the Heat game. Tuesday came, and finally the Rockets decided to send White to the D-League (which basketball-wise is absolutely the right move).

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With the exception of the jackasses on Twitter, there does seem to be a lot of people who are empathetic towards the guy, but at the end of the day, the Rockets are a business. He has not been in the league long enough to be told, "Address your problems, your job will be here when you get back." They've been accommodating, but considering their investment, it's not unreasonable for them to expect when they ask him to see a doctor of their choosing, that he do so at the earliest convenience for them. In the end, they shouldn't be doing for him what he refuses to do for himself.


There's sympathy, and then there's expecting him to face his problems the way his boss(es) expects him to. No Twitter rant on his part is making him seem like he cares much about doing his job to the expectations of the guys paying him a guaranteed salary. And at the end of the day, even though many of us, aside from knuckleheads on Twitter, do empathize, we can't want him to succeed more than he wants to. Other adults in less lucrative professions with the same issues have to cope; it's time for a little less accommodation and a little more proaction on his part, by whatever his employer deems necessary.


We live in a country that is still peopled with men who think rape victims can't get pregnant. It should come as no surprise that we're not overly sympathetic to people with mental illness. But even those of us who have dealt with the mentally ill have a hard time; they look perfectly healthy. You think you can just shake them and tell them to get over it. But you can't. It doesn't work, and it often makes things worse. To make matters more complicated, they often don't take their meds, because--hello!--they're mentally ill and they're not always capable of ascertaining their own needs. I don't know if that describes White, but the Rockets took the kid on knowing about his disorder. If they're willing to take him on, they should be willing to make sure he gets the help he needs.

Sean Casey Caldwell
Sean Casey Caldwell

Catering to his mental illness is going to impact team cohesiveness. His tendency to air out private team issues on social media should be a red flag, as well. Cut him.

gossamersixteen topcommenter

Fire the whiner, let him go home to Mama and work at Wal Mart.. Or take some meds, and get on the damn plane, air travel is far safer than driving. What a tool..


Not for nothing, but I think what makes this situation terrible is that he feels ENTITLED to this treatment. Whether the Rockets want to do it is on them. What excuse does he have for NOT showing up? What does Royce want them to do? Build him a machine to teleport with? Build a trains system that directly links all NBA centers and practice facilities together? Get in a car and drive your own ass to practice.  There's Undrafted free agents out there who would kill for an opportunity to even show up and play with NBA level players, not mention the contract that comes with it. Entitlement is why this story is pointless, not because the Rockets are this evil empire out to waste their first overall pick in the draft. I don't even know why you're defending this guy.  I mean what did this guy come into the NBA for? Get a job that doesn't involve flying then. This is just pandering.

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