By Mac Moore
There was a chance. A chance to put a face on a disorder that is rarely talked about and usually overlooked as shyness. He had all the tools to become that face. Now Royce White is telling the Rio Grande Valley Vipers that he does not want to play for them in the postseason. “Good,” the D-League team says, “he isn’t worth it.”
Royce White has made it clear from the get-go that his anxiety disorder would always be a factor in his game. Considering the pressure of being a basketball player, having a disorder that strikes you the hardest when stress is placed on you cannot be good.
While playing for the Cyclones, White led the team in all five major statistical categories. According to ESPN, White is 6’8” and 270 lbs yet has amazing ball handling skills and athleticism. This led the Rockets to select White 16th overall in the 2012 draft. His potential outweighed the negatives his anxiety disorder brought with it.
It is too bad the anxiety is not the only baggage that White carries. White was suspended for his freshman season at Minnesota for attempting to steal $100 worth of merchandise and running over a security guard.
I just don’t get it. One moment I see White as the possibility that we can teach the masses about anxiety disorder. His first year in the NBA, he held the Rockets accountable for providing the necessary support for mental health issues.
When everything seems to be resolved and White is scheduled to start practicing with the team, the Rockets report that White didn’t show up for practices. After getting the D-League assignment, White refuses to play, saying in a statement that the playing environment was “unsafe”. Yet, without a notable change to the situation, White starts to play for the D-League squad.
I don’t want to speculate, but his mind seemed to change once the Rockets suspended him without pay. Maybe the fight against the bad ole NBA that doesn’t have the correct protocols for dealing with mental health issues is only worth fighting when you can still cash their checks.
The point is all but moot if White doesn’t get on the court. I don’t see a possibility for increasing awareness on the subject if White doesn’t start to become that superstar player that he has the potential to become.
I remember reading the Myron Medcalf article on ESPN.com, right after White put up 18 points and 17 rebounds against my Jayhawks. His anxiety and fear of flying caused him to cancel his visit to Kentucky. This was his life. Nobody can guarantee you a second chance at D-I basketball. White nearly gave up his for a mental health issue that few people even know about.
The debilitating effects of White’s general anxiety disorder took my breath away. I just watched White dominate a college basketball game like few people ever can. Yet his Superman performance doesn’t make him invincible. I know the feeling White felt as he asked his mother to cancel his flight to Lexington.
My first day of classes at JCCC, I sat at the K-10 connector bus stop in Lawrence waiting for the 6:30am bus. Then the 7 o’clock. Then the 7:30. Finally the 8am bus. I couldn’t make myself get on. A cloud covered over my thoughts and emotions.
I had an unnecessary fear of something that had been done for the last 12 years. Sure it’s college. There is an expected level of anxiousness involved with this “new” thing. This is something totally different. As I awaited the bus that would get me to class on time, I threw up. Twice.
A feeling overtook me that day. It’s the same feeling I get when I walk into a room full of strangers. It’s the same feeling I get when I send a text message that I really need a response to. It’s the same feeling I got when I got suspended in junior high for skipping class.
It’s a chill down my spine. It’s tunnel vision. It’s a shaking that takes over my whole body. It is an anti-adrenaline that zaps all your energy. It’s a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. It’s an extreme fear that should be reserved for victims in the Saw franchise. It’s an overload of the brain, worrying about everything and nothing all at the same time.
Like White, I suffer from anxiety. When people joke around about being creatures of habit, I chuckle. If I’m not doing the exact same thing, if I’m introduced to something new, I immediately tense up. My eyes find a spot on the ground so that I can entertain only my thoughts in an effort to calm myself down.
When I first found out that White suffered from anxiety, I assumed this was the chance for people to truly understand. He seemed liked the perfect candidate. Now he’s not even important to a semi-pro team as they enter the post-season. What could have been?
Contact Mac Moore, sports editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org