x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

The Houston Rockets' decision to draft Royce White was grounded in folly

White, who also deals with obsessive compulsiveness, lasted three exhibition games and one flight before winding up on the inactive list.

The Houston Rockets' Royce White.
The Houston Rockets' Royce White.

An NBA franchise is afforded an entire year to prepare for a draft that lasts all of two rounds. In that time, a team could compile a huge dossier on every targeted player.

Any file on Royce White deserved a title: "Fear Of Flying". This was no secret. In college, White relied on ground transport to get to most road games.

Planes are the NBA standard mode of transport and will be until the league starts spacing games four days apart. That did not stop the Houston Rockets from spending a first-round pick, No 16 overall, on White.

Maybe the Rockets' staff were overwhelmed from owning two other picks, at 12 and 18. Or perhaps they were blinded by his university credentials - team leader in scoring, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks.

Aviophobia, the term for White's condition, is real, affecting millions. Treatment works for some - Wayne Gretzky overcame it, as did Muhammad Ali - but not for all. What possessed the Rockets to assume that sudden wealth and wider fame would be accompanied by a cure?

Not surprisingly, White, who also deals with obsessive compulsiveness, lasted three exhibition games and one flight before winding up on the inactive list.

Houston, hoping to salvage their investment, assigned him to their low-pressure developmental league squad. White baulked, refusing to report while labelling the club as medically unqualified to map out his treatment.

Doomed from the start, this draft decision is about to move, faster than a jet, into the "Worst Selections Ever" folder.

sports@thenational.ae

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