This is possibly the most interesting issue the NBA has had to deal with since the introduction of Twitter & Facebook with players tweeting from the bench during games. One guy is taking a stance for mental health… or is he? Today, Royce White was suspended by the Houston Rockets on the basis that he ‘refused to provide services’ to the Rockets organisation. The NBA Hangtime Blog has a good writeup on how things are unfolding.
From the Hangtime article:
“There’s no mental health protocol here, for not only the Rockets but the entire league, really,” White said. “I expressed that that’s really unsafe if you think about it. So, basically, I’m fighting to have that rectified. I just don’t think it is OK or responsible or even logical to have GMs or any front office personnel have executive authority in medical situations.”
Which makes us think… if this guy is petrified of flying, being in confined places, etc… maybe it’s reasonable for him to expect some formality around his mental illness? And perhaps the NBA should have a league-wide policy on how to deal with these situations much like it does with Twitter, negative comments about refereeing and guns in the locker-room. So let’s dig a little more and see where Royce’s anxieties come from?
Grantland did a great interview with Royce in June, 2012 and he was quoted as saying:
“It’s not like I’m really nervous about getting on the plane,” he says. “When I get on the plane, I’m a little uncomfortable. But I’m not panicking on the plane. It’s preparing to fly — if I have a flight on a plane today at noon, I’m worrying from 8 to 12. Just an anxious feeling. That’s the anxiety. That anxious feeling becomes overwhelming sometimes. You might get sick. You might feel drowsy. Any of those things could be a reality. It’s not that it’s overblown. There’s some truth to the fact that I don’t like to fly, but it’s not like I can’t fly. I’m able to fly. I just prefer not to.”
So Royce White can travel in an airplane. He played in 14 away games last year in college… so why now, Royce? The guys over at Hardwood Paradoxym are telling it how it is.
So here at 3 Man Weave, what do we think?
The NBA has dealt with health issues in the past outside of your standard physical injuries. Not all mental illnesses of course, but NBA teams as a whole have shown that they are professional organisations who have the ability to support players in these circumstances.
Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (Tourettes)
Delonte West (Bipolar)
Greg Stiemsma (Depression)
Jerome Whitehead (Depression)
Keyon Dooling (Anxiety & Sexual Abuse)
Chris Herren (Substance Abuse and depression)
Chris Mullin (Substance Abuse and depression)
Roy Tarpley (Substance Abuse)
Shawn Kemp (Substance Abuse)
Richard Dumas (Substance Abuse)
Kendall Gill (Depression)
Michael Beasley (Substance Abuse and depression)
Kirk Snyder (Schizophrenia)
Jayson Williams (Substance Abuse and anxiety)
Jerry West (Depression)
Eddie Griffin (Substance Abuse and suspected anxiety disorder)
Clifford Rozier (Bipolar & Schizophrenia)
DeMarcus Cousins (TBA); and
Metta World Peace (various)
Royce White has a mental illness, no-one should dispute that. Nor should anyone dispute that we could all learn more about mental illness and have a better understanding on how to deal with and support those who suffer from a mental illness. But Royce… Other NBA players have been in your shoes before. The Rockets believed in you, ignoring the perceived and potential issues surrounding a player with a mental illness. Given that… surely you could practice with your team in Houston? Surely you could be in uniform to play in home games? Surely you could travel via car or a team bus to the away games in San Antonio, Dallas, New Orleans or even OKC meaning that including the home games you could participate in 47 games out of the 82 game schedule without setting foot on a plane (which apparently you’re ok with, you just prefer not to). Surely it would be better to show that you’re a professional? Surely it’s better to show other people who suffer from a mental illness that you are trying to overcome your fears, working at a solution and sticking it out with your team instead of refusing to play in the NBA or the NBDL?
We are basketball lovers, not health professionals… so we’re not here to decide what Royce White should & shouldn’t do. Our observation is that a very good basketball player has an opportunity that only 450 people in the world get every year… to play in the NBA. He also then has a platform from which he can educate the world about mental illness in a positive way, work with the Houston Rockets and the NBA on creating awareness of mental illness and developing the league’s first Mental Illness policy. He could be outspoken and an advocate for his cause yet still be a part of the Rockets team. But he’s not. Potentially, this talented basketball player has lost any chance he has of making an NBA roster. The Rockets were willing to ignore his mental illness on draft day… who would now? White seemingly has alienated himself from the entire NBA and as a 21 year old he probably doesn’t have the maturity to understand the magnitude of what he’s doing.
In the world of basketball, we all love stats and numbers so we’re going to finish off with some.
White’s salary is $1,645,440 which over an 82 game season equates to $20,066 per game.
The Rockets have just played their 34th game of the season, which is $682,255 (potentially) they have paid White to date.
What does that really mean? White got paid $682,255 to not play basketball; to not train with his team; to not participate in the NBA Cares program; to not help the organisation that drafted him; to not be a professional and to not set a positive example to people around the world suffering from mental illnesses.
It costs $12,277.20 a year in the USA to feed a family of four. So White’s salary to date could feed 55 American families for a year.
Per Global Giving $682,255 could provide:
Clothing for 170,000 children in Africa
In the Phillippines, it could build 10,000 rescue boats for use during floods plus support 50 village evacuation centres for 6 months.
Put over 200 kids in Haiti through school.
We’re not saying Royce White should be solving world problems with his salary, it just puts things in perspective for us. White thinks he’s being an advocate for mental illness; we don’t see it. Metta World Peace has been very outspoken about Mental Health and he raffled off his 2010 Championship ring and raised more than $500,000 towards mental health research and awareness. It’s not about the money, it’s about making a commitment to the team paying you, setting an example for others and doing your bit for your cause.
What are you really doing, Royce White?