Royce White's anxiety issues have already made noise around the professional ranks as the first-year forward missed his first day of training camp. And the reactions have varied, from the asinine to the tame to the completely over the top. CBS scribe Matt Moore's reaction falls into a nice crevice between the many others, and it helps that Moore has a good idea of what exactly anxiety issues involve. Here's an excerpt from his piece on White, which you should read in its entirety:
No one except White knows exactly what he goes through, and no one can really know if he'll be able to handle the stress in order to deal with it. There are so many things that go into a rookie being successful, and that's before you get to something like his anxiety. He's got to become a great ballplayer first, and he has a lot of hurdles in his way.
The point here, is that everyone who has heightened anxiety deals with it differently. Triggers for people with panic attacks are completely separate. When I thought about White trying to get acclimated to NBA life, my concern wasn't for him stepping up and hitting free throws with the game on the line. He's done that. That's in the context of something he can lose himself in, the least likely place for him to have an episode.
But the idea of meeting new teammates and coaches, with more experience, high expectations, little sympathy and then having to deal with the media? I got a little twitchy just sitting here thinking about it from my comfy chair.
The biggest thing to understand about White's situation is something that coaches hammer as a cliche over and over again. It's a process. Learning to deal with my anxiety took me a decade. It's still a problem at times. I don't let it affect my work, or my personal life. It's just something you work at, and what White's doing is what he needs to: working at it.
The best conclusion that anyone can reach at this point is that there are no conclusions to be reached. We don't know enough details yet to make any definitive statements about White's present condition, his chances of playing during the preseason or his chances of having a successful career (a topic that some have absurdly attempted to discuss).
For now, we're going to have to wait and see what White does. And there won't be an endgame in sight. We'll have to revisit White's condition perhaps every week or month. That's the one assumption I'll make about his anxiety: I think the triggers can come up at any random point. Anything the Rockets can do to minimize those triggers will help, but again, I'm going to assume that White hasn't solved them at this point (obviously a tall order) and that the randomness element is going to keep the Rockets busy and us as fans wondering what will happen next.