White, Rockets coming to terms on anxiety
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
LOS ANGELES — Royce White said it doesn’t matter if he’s 100% comfortable with the agreement he reached with the Houston Rockets regarding concerns for his mental health.
What matters to the rookie forward, who has an anxiety disorder, is that “(the Rockets) acknowledged I have a disorder, and it does have to be reasonably accommodated,” White told USA TODAY Sports.
White, who battles travel anxieties, including flying, among other anxieties, declined to reveal every detail of the agreement, and the Rockets declined comment when asked about the agreement.
But White, the No. 16 pick in the 2012 June draft, plans to bus to games for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the Development League when possible and fly when it’s not. When White reports, the Vipers will have less than two months of the regular season left. At that point, seven of the team 21 remaining games will be on the road, some of which can be accommodated by bus.
For now, the agreement does not include an independent doctor who would assist White and the Rockets on decisions related to his mental health. White had long wanted that part of the agreement. But he acknowledged they are working their way through an unprecedented situation and was willing to move forward without an independent doctor for now.
After a nearly three-month long disagreement between White and the Rockets — which included the team suspending him for three weeks — on how to address White’s mental health, the two sides reached an agreement on Jan. 26. White will to report to the Vipers, Houston’s D-League affiliate, on Feb. 11. If all goes well, he could be with the Rockets this season
White has become an outspoken and passionate advocate for mental health and the rights of those who suffer. “I have a voice and people know me,” White said. “I can reach out to people and make a stink that most people can’t.”
White and the Rockets had reached an impasse but kept lines of communication open, even during his suspension. During a meeting just before the agreement was reached, White felt encouraged by Rockets executives.