Houston Rockets

Royce White Features for Rio Grande Valley Vipers: Not Just About Basketball

TARRYTOWN, NY - AUGUST 21:  Royce White #30 of the Houston Rockets poses for a portrait during the 2012 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot at the MSG Training Center on August 21, 2012 in Tarrytown, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images
Michael LingbergCorrespondent IIIFebruary 13, 2013

The man slated to be the next Charles Barkley, but without a jump shot, made his first D-League appearance Tueday. Royce White is well on his way to playing for the Houston Rockets

In the Rio Grande Valley Vipers' 139-122 win over the Maine Red Claws, White scored seven points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out four assists. He was doing everything that made him such an intriguing prospect when he played for Iowa State. 

White was handling the ball like point guards do, and his ability to find the open man is what was truly impressive about this guy. At 6'8" and in the region of 260 pounds, guys his size shouldn't move the ball like he can. It's a rare ability and something to be quietly optimistic about.

If White does get called up by the Houston Rockets this season, he has a chance to offer the club things no other player on the roster can.

To be simple, White can be a matchup nightmare. He's been compared to Charles Barkley and even LeBron James, but less athletic. If he can live up to those comparisons, the Rockets will have a huge asset on their hands. 

But the real reason we should all be cheering for White's first appearance in the D-League is that he and the Rockets seem to be making progress regarding his mental health. The two sides have agreed that White will be able to ride a bus to games

White's difficulty with anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and a fear of flying has been well-documented. It has been a struggle up until now for White because he's been trying to find a way to deal with his conditions with the Rockets. Not only have his issues been well-documented, he has also had issues with insults over Twitter because of his refusal to play until now. 

It has been a high-profile saga, and one can only feel like this is a very progressive move for both sides. White isn't the first player to have troubles with mental health, nor will he be the last.

But what he's done about the issue of anxiety is a first, in my memory, at least. Usually when a rookie holds out until this point in the season, it's because he wants more money. But with White, it was about the assurance that he'll be able to manage his mental health. 

It couldn't happen to a better guy, either. He seems like a very cerebral person, as he sometimes likes to end his tweets on Twitter with #BeWell...White also sounds like a very unique individual, quite unlike most athletes. Because of his profile, one could say he's a spokesperson against anxiety. 

It has been a somewhat messy affair, but White can now call this a victory that will help him in his struggle with himself. This story is by no means over, though. 

Now he can get back to what us basketball fanatics consider most important: We want to see those point-forward skills in action. Because quite frankly, we miss Barkley.

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