The Houston Rockets took a huge gamble selecting Royce White at No. 16 in June’s NBA Draft. White was a beast his one year at Iowa State (13.4 points, 9.3 rebounds, 5 assists) but his draft stock plummeted thanks to a well-documented anxiety disorder. A major crux of his situation: White has a tremendous fear of flying. Unfortunately for White, the NBA travel schedule is arguably the most taxing out of the major sports.
During the pre-season, the Rockets worked out a deal with White to be able to drive to some games, but the agreement included one caveat: he was required to visit Dr. Aaron Fink of Baylor University, a team-appointed specialist, in order to help overcome his anxiety. It turns out White has skipped out on sessions with Dr. Fink, and after multiple missed practices and games, and rumors of a D-League assignment, things culminated in White releasing this statement on Tuesday:
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 [the] preseason, the Rockets have been inconsistent with their agreement to proactively create a healthy and successful relationship.
The Rockets have now fired back, threatening to fine White for every day he is away from the team, and for any session he avoids with the team-appointed therapist. It’s an unfortunate turn of events for both sides, as these matters are preferably handled behind closed doors. But it appears Rockets owner Leslie Alexander is laying down the law, in the interest of his franchise, and, hopefully, his young draft pick’s health.