Posted on January 19, 2013 at 2:06 pm by David Barron in General, Houston Rockets, Rockets
Suspended Rockets rookie forward Royce White has confirmed he wants the team to hire a physician — a “medical point person,” in his words — with authority to determine whether White’s generalized anxiety disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder will allow him to practice or play each day.
White’s confirmation of the stipulations he wants added to his contract were made during a Jan. 8 interview with correspondent Bernard Goldberg of HBO’s “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel,” which will air a 16-minute segment Tuesday on White.
“I want a medical point person that will remain neutral and keep the interest in health,” White told Goldberg.
Asked if that meant the doctor could determine that White’s anxiety disorder would not allow him to play, for example, against the Lakers: “Then I can’t play against the Lakers,” he said.
“Just like if your doc … if your orthopedist says, ‘Royce’s left toe has a crack in it and he shouldn’t run or jump against the Lakers tonight,’ then I can’t run or jump against the Lakers tonight.”
White said the only difference between his disorder and an orthopedic injury is “you can’t see mine. There’s no swelling, so to speak. It’s not purple.”
He said he is aware his demands could end his NBA career but said, “I’m not going to accept it without a fight.”
White’s comments to HBO are in line with a Jan. 6 Chronicle story detailing his demands to include binding medical protocols in his contract, which, according to a document displayed by HBO, would include an acknowledgment that a mental condition affecting play is no different than a physical condition. Such a written, signed agreement would violate the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement with the players’ association.
During the interview, White, 21, acknowledged not showing up for practice or games but said each absence was because of a medical reason.
“I’m sure they wouldn’t want to hear that James Harden broke his ankle, either,” he said. “But there’s a health reality that exists.”
Neither HBO nor White addressed the fact that injured players are required to be on hand at the team’s discretion for therapy or practice and can be fined if they do not comply.
If he played or practiced without the protocols, which he has said he will not do, White said, “I would be risking my life.
Not worth the risk
“What comes along with mental health that goes untreated? Alcohol abuse. Marijuana abuse. Suicidal behavior. Homicidal behavior. Those are things I’m not willing to risk to play basketball, to have money, to have fame.”
White said through a spokesman he would not comment on the issues discussed in the HBO story until after it airs at 9 p.m. Tuesday. ESPN also is scheduled to air a White interview Tuesday on “Outside the Lines.”
The HBO interview includes a segment with White driving on Houston streets and express-ing concern about motorists who might be sending text messages while driving, and a tour of his closet, which Goldberg described as a symbol of White’s need for order.
“The item in here for me, out of all my clothes and belongings, that represents the most anxiety for me … is these hats right here,” White said. “They’re easily misplaced. You know, they’re easily displaced. It’s a round shape on a … on a hook, on a square. You know,
it’s just … geometrically, it … it messes with my mind. Which is why I really … I’m very careful when I come in my own closet.”
The interview was recorded two days after the Rockets suspended him following his refusal to report to their NBA Development League affiliate. He has not played for the Rockets or practiced with them since Nov. 6.
Of White, Goldberg said, “He’s either courageous or insufferable, depending on where you’re standing.”
Team interview denied
HBO said the Rockets did not allow team executives to be interviewed for the story. In addition to White, the segment features Michael McCann, an expert on sports law who teaches at the University of New Hampshire, who said White is a “pioneer” in attempting to test a professional league’s oversight of an athlete facing mental health issues.
McCann said White’s request for a medical point person and binding medical protocols “opens the door for the team to lose control over its most important quality, which is the ability to play players in a way that makes sense for the team.”
“The Rockets could say, look, we could have this neutral physician as part of the conversation, having influence, having input; that might be reasonable,” McCann said. “Having this person be the final decision-maker, or the only decision-maker, is not reasonable.”
The “Real Sports” segment on Royce White included screen shots of two documents: the first two paragraphs of what was described as a five-page letter that Rockets general manager Daryl Morey sent to White on Nov. 20, and the outline of the proposed protocols that White would like the Rockets to follow.
First, the Morey letter:
Nov. 20, 2012
This seems to be a good time for us to step back and think about some of the issues that we have been dealing with over the past few months. As we have told you repeatedly, our goals are for you to be fully integrated into the Team and to have a healthy and productive season, both on and off the court. We have been committed to these goals from the day we drafted you, and have acted consistently with those goals ever since. We have bent over backwards to accommodate your requests and help you meet these goals. At our meeting yesterday, I spent significant time addressing your frustrations. I would like to take this opportunity to further explain how your actions and the changing nature of your explanations for your actions has frustrated our attempts to help you meet your goals. The bottom line is that we remain willing to work with you on issues that arise from legitimate medical need, but you have to come to games, practice and everything else that you are able to do, just like any other player.
To revisit from the beginning, before we drafted you, you told us that your fear of flying was not an issue and that you were ready to be an NBA player. Shortly after we drafted you, you apologized for having to mislead us. You later indicated that you were feeling anxious about flying to the NBA’s rookie orientation program this summer. When you missed your scheduled flight, we arranged for a later flight and for Matt Brase to travel with you, working with the NBA to accommodate your concerns. Shortly after that, we informed you that we thought it would be beneficial for you to meet with Dr. Aaron Fink, a world-renowned psychiatrist, who could provide you with access to an appropriate professional in Houston to help should any situations arise. We gave you Dr. Fink’s contact information and several available times for an interview. You and your representatives responded that you viewed this as a very helpful step and confirmed that you would meet with Dr. Fink. You did not do so.
The first page of White’s proposed protocols for the Rockets:
In order for the working conditions to be safe and healthy for someone with mental illness/disability, it is the belief of the medical experts and myself credited for this document that a protocol has to be developed on how to appropriately deal with an individual in respect to mental illness(s)/disabilities from an operational and medical standpoint. A protocol will not only ensure the safe and healthy work conditions for a player like myself with mental illness, but also will lend a system of accountability for both the team and I to use to base what is the appropriate route of action.
Due to the lack of protocol regarding mental illness, this agreed upon document will serve as an addendum to insert into the medical category of the contract and team rules.
1. Protocol terms
a: Acknowledgment: Acknowledging mental illness/disability as being in the category of mental condition.
i. Recognizing the individualistic nature of mental illness
1. All mental illnesses unique to each individual despite similar diagnosis.
After reading the article, I can't help but notice the lack of will to "get better" on Royce's part. It appears that all of Whites concerns and requests pertain to managing his illness but not overcoming it. White's and the Rockets biggest challenge will be overcoming his stubbornness. This guy is being intentionally diifficult and hiding behind "mental illness" in order to further his own agenda, which has less to do with improving his quality of life and more to do with control.
This entire fiasco is one giant contradiction. Royce keeps talking about mental illness and protocol's, but has done nothing in 6 months with access to the finest physicians in the world to try and overcome it. I feel for the Rockets. They took a chance on the guy and have been dragged into a nightmare. Furthermore, White has crossed the line between helping his cause and hurting it by being so unreasonable. What professional sports team is going to want to take a chance on another player with a mental illness after this?
This is probably why current NBA players stay and remain quiet about their mental illness by deciding not to step forward. It's a headache for everybody involved, this article is perfect evidence of that point. I agree with your take regarding this saga, it's a massive contradiction because Royce says here "I'm not going to give this up without a fight" to saying something like he'd be prepared to walk away from basketball altogether. All of this attention is no doubt turning his anxiety into endless waves of stress and I feel sorry for him but if he played by the rules to begin with, the stress wouldn't be as severe as it is now. Just bite the bullet the first time.
How Houston has managed to have a successful season with this going on behind the scenes is a credit to the coaching staff and a credit to their roster. Throughout this saga, they've been highly professional by trying to cater towards Royce's needs and Royce has constantly ignored the aid offered. The Rockets are a business, they cannot afford to put the amount of attention Royce wants while being an efficient business especially when White hasn't proven anything in the NBA yet.
I loved Royce's game at Iowa State and I was really happy that he got drafted in the mid-first round because he was a role model in the making and he'd have a chance to show off his unique game to a wider audience, unfortunately for Royce and his followers, the worst case scenario has happened with both sides holding a firm stance. This could go on until July, probably leading to a trade or confirmation of the termination of Royce's contract, let's just hope it doesn't go that far.
I like the kids game, but I knew this would happen with him. He is not worth the trouble he is causing.
Royce gives people suffering from anxiety a bad name. Yes, there were alot of us patient and understanding of his condition but he has really gone too far....
I would be personally willing to hire 4 or 5 doctors, hell I would hire 100 doctors if it meant a chance of full filling a dream of playing in the NBA !!
I wish the Rockets put a "No twitter" clause in his contract....
Rookie forward Royce White is close to returning to the Rockets and to reporting to their D-League affiliate.
In a call in to a morning show on 97.9 The Box, White said he plans to report to the D-League on Feb. 11, pending “paper work” on a plan with the team.
According to a person with knowledge of the plan, the Rockets are close to making an announcement in which White would return to the team under a written agreement that includes key elements of the protocols that White wanted to have as an addendum to his contract.
Under the agreement, writing with input from the NBA and the NBPA, White would resume workouts to prepare for the D-League assignment. He had been working out for several days this month with basketball staff intern Derrick Alston but was suspended Jan. 6, one week after he said he would refuse his assignment to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said White was suspended “for refusing to provide services as required by his Uniform Player Contract.”
Morey would not comment on any plan with the team. When told of White’s comments on Wednesday, Morey said, “We’re in constant communication with Royce and hope to get him back in the fold soon.”
White seemed optimistic that the agreement would be in place shortly.
“The resolution, when I say we’re in the 12th hour, what I literally mean is we’re in the 12th hour .. .. any hour now this thing will be over,” White said. “I’m supposed to be returning to the D-league on February 11. That was the plan. We’ll see if it finally goes through but last thing I heard was that’s what we’re going to do, that’s what we’re planning to do. Waiting on everybody to get the right paperwork done and stuff.
“Everybody wants to make it seem like wild, wild west standoff between me and the Rockets. That’s not the case here. There has been an issue that’s been identified. Mental health is not descriptive enough in CBA (collective bargaining agreement) and UPC (uniform player contract.) It being so vague makes us make it up as we go. There’s no protocol. We need to rectify that to make sure the environment is safe. If we’re making it up as we go, … that’s probably not the safest thing.”
White, however, seemed satisfied that by adapting enough of the protocols he proposed, he would be able to return to the team.
Hope he and the Rockets get it together, would be a shame to see all that talent go to waste.
i wonder if the 2.11.date is something the Rockets and he worked out, or if it is just when he feels like going back to work,
it is hard to follow this guy he is so vague and unclear on what he is telling people!
if his goal was to try to gain any sympathy for his cause of mental illness, he failed. dude makes you say "**** em, give someone else his spot."