Until Royce White was suspended in December, those would be the words right by his name on the box score sheet.
For those unfamiliar with Royce White, he’s a talented yet mercurial 21-year old kid who last June was drafted 18th by the Houston Rockets. White also happens to be a kid diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, White recently revealed that he also struggles with PTSD.
Over the past 2 months White and the Rockets have been in a very public dispute over where Royce was going to play. The Rockets generally send all of their rookies to their developmental league team The Rio Grande Vipers. This is to give rookies a diminished learning curve when they get to the NBA.
According to White, his issues with the Rockets first started in training camp, when they were getting the details of his travel schedule down. White spoke to Slate Magazine’s Hang Up and Listen Podcast stating that his family doctor suggested that White get everything involving his playing career correct, to make sure that he was going to a safe working environment.
In the interest of full disclosure I, like Royce White, live with PTSD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Therefore I partially understand where he’s coming from, he wants to feel safe in his work environment. White needs structure and little deviance, and if things deviate it may initiate a panic attack.
That said, his many inconsistencies make it very hard to defend him when you start tugging at the wool of his stories. For instance looking at White’s Grantland interview with Chuck Klosterman, he states that the main issue he has with the Rockets was the fact that he wanted his own personal doctor to determine if he was mentally fit to play that night. Not an independent doctor that both the team and the White could agree on, but one of White’s choosing with absolutely no input from the team.
The first hole in that thread would be that barring a lawsuit, NBA owners would never give allow a player (via his doctor) to dictate when and where a player decides to play. It would have to be brought up in the next Collective Bargaining Meetings where it’d be shot down.
My question for White would be this: why must it be your own doctor instead of an independent physician? Similar to how the NFL treats concussions. That way the chance for wrongdoing and bias are minimized to where both sides should be able to trust one another. Mainly because White does have a point, team doctors are a huge conflict of interest, and if you need any more indications of that, go take a look at the RG3/ Shanahan/ Dr. James Andrews saga that just went on in the NFL.
The other massive hole in White’s crusade of mental health advocacy is the willingness Royce has in painting everyone with mental illness with the same brush. In the Grantland article he states, “If someone tears a ligament, there is a grade for its severity. But there’s no grade with mental illness. It all has to do with the person and their environment and how they are affected by that environment.” Which reads as White contradicting himself to make his point.
Just speaking from personal experiences, not everyone with mental illness is created equal. There are those of us who need medication to function within society on a daily basis, and that’s okay. Then there are those who don’t have to be medicated and go to therapy on a weekly basis to help get a handle on our emotions. It took two therapists over the span of 5 years to get my anxiety/emotional issues under control, but I’m not a typical case of those who are diagnosed, for that matter neither is Royce. Each case is atypical, each case is a different shade of grey.
In spite of all that, I’m rooting for him. He’d make a great mental health advocate, I just hope he learns from this whole ordeal to be a better advocate for the rest of us.