Royce White's Twitter Rant: 10 Ignorant Replies
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:
For the record, I'm not injured... Not even a little bit. #Truth— Royce White (@Highway_30) November 11, 2012
(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).