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Setting Precedent: The Houston Rockets and Royce White (Timeout: Week 1)

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Nice article Ray. I think there's a lot to this story from both sides that we're not hearing about. I heard White was a top ... PaintingtheBlack
Royce White is a rookie that has yet to make his season debut with the Houston Rockets. So why is he important? He’s currently waging a battle with the Rockets franchise on how to deal with athletes if they have a mental illness. After not appearing in the first 34 games for the Rockets, White has recently refused his Houston mandated D-League assignment, and now has been promptly suspended without pay. The Rockets, and the whole NBA for that matter, is in a quandary. Mental disorders are not something you make light of, is this a battle that all sides will lose?

Royce White, for all intents and purposes, is a great basketball player. Getting drafted 16th overall over the hundreds of college players that were eligible for the draft, says about as much as you need to know. But there is one concession: White suffers from anxiety disorder which includes a fear of flying. This fear, and how the Rockets willingness or unwillingness to deal with this anxiety, has contributed to White not being seen anywhere near a court this season.There's no clear place to point the blame here, but first, let's give a couple of concessions to where credit is due. After reading the following, you'll see it's hard to point the finger of blame anywhere at all.

The Rockets clearly knew about White's disorder, and chose not to discriminate against him for it. As a result, the Rockets are paying White a three million dollar contract, giving him guaranteed money on a team that is yet to benefit from his services. Royce White, knew that CLEARLY, travel by plane is included in the job description of being a professional NBA player. The Rockets, are the team that are giving HIM an opportunity to live his dream. Could you imagine what Royce White would have to be doing if he wasn't drafted at all? I'm inclined to think that White is taking advantage of the Rockets' good hearted nature here, as they were the place that has granted him the opportunity, but really, I don't know what it's like to have a mental disorder. Is the nature of the disorder that crippling in effect? It's a touchy subject that I prefer not to gloss over, but am even afraid to touch in fear of offending someone without knowing the intricacies of how it actually operates. Knowing that, is it wrong to think White should be getting special treatment that at its core, addresses our empathy and humanity within us? Big question right there.

White in this case, is making it extremely hard for the NBA and for the Houston Rockets franchise to respond without looking like the villains. But as of now with the suspension, it's clear the Rockets are becoming more aggressive in resolving the situation. At the end of this season, the NBA will be earmarked for a revision of their mental disability policy, as currently, they do not have one to refer to in White's case. He may win the battle with the Rockets, but what other team would be willing to sign him based on his behaviour so early into the NBA season? I hope it all works out for the Rockets and White, but at the very least, precedent will be set going forward. It's quite possible that White becomes a martyr for future players facing similar situations, saving them for going through the same angst, but at the detriment of his own career. After all, when this contract is up, is anyone going to want to deal with this situation again?
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