Royce White has a well-documented anxiety disorder that has made it extremely difficult for him to take airplanes. For a NBA player, that’s a huge problem. However, the Houston Rockets drafted him anyway, and even though the regular season hasn’t started, the disorder is causing some issues.
White is trying to work out some sort of contract with the Rockets, where he can takes buses instead of airplanes when possible. I applaud the Rockets for trying to allow White to chase his dream despite his condition, but that opens up a real can of worms for the team.
Firstly, this means he’ll be away from his team during one of the most important chemistry-building times (road trips). While the team will be together in the airport and on the plane and at the hotel, White will be on his bus and won’t arrive for many hours later.
Secondly, there’s the issue of how difficult it will be to get good, quality sleep on the bus. They have a couple of road trips where he’ll have to get on the bus immediately if he has any chance of getting to the next city in time for any practice or shootaround. Here’s one stretch that strikes me as remarkably difficult, time and distance are from previous location:
Jan 2 vs. New Orleans
Jan 4 at Milwaukee (19.5 hours/1180 miles)
Jan 5 at Cleveland (7.5 hours/435 miles)
Jan 8 vs. Los Angeles (21 hours/1304 miles)
Jan 9 at New Orleans (5 hours/347 miles)
Jan 11 at Boston (24.5 hours/1532 miles)
Jan 12 at Philadelphia (6 hours/305 miles)
Jan 15 vs. Los Angeles (24.5 hours/1569 miles)
Jan 16 at Dallas (3.5 hours/239 miles)
Jan 18 at Indiana (14 hours/900 miles)
Jan 19 at Minnesota (10 hours/593 miles)
Jan 21 at Charlotte (19.5 hours/1167 miles)
There’s another stretch early in the season that will create the first time issue, as he’ll barely make Portland in time, assuming no setbacks.
Nov 14 vs. New Orleans
Nov 16 at Portland (39 hours/2552 miles)
Nov 18 at Los Angeles (16 hours/964 miles)
Nov 19 at Utah (10 hours/689 miles)
Nov 21 vs. Chicago (24 hours/1544 miles)
It’s plain to see how those times really start stacking up. Add in the possibility of weather that planes deal with better than cars (snow), and the times will just go up. The team is put in a volatile situation, especially if he starts playing big minutes, because they can’t count on him being there in time.
Additionally, on the planes with the team is another spot the coaches can talk to the players and do strategy-related sessions. White misses out on this unless he’s hooked up via webcam, and even then he’s depending on his internet connection to hold up.
I really hope White can get his anxiety disorder under control and can become a tremendous NBA player. As of now, the Rockets are bending over backwards to help him because they think he can help the team, but in reality, they’re hurting themselves because those ridiculous road trips and all the negatives far outweigh the positives.
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