Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury – Behind the Mic – March 25th

I had aspirations to become a lawyer when I was younger. Circumstances interfered with that goal and I certainly have no regrets about the path that life took me. However, I still love reading courtroom dramas, a la John Grisham, and shows like “Boston Legal” and “The Good Wife” have always captured my interest. So, this week I am going to practice law (with no background, other than reading about and watching Perry Mason as a kid).

The background: many of you have probably never heard of Royce White and you most certainly have never rooted for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Royce White was the 16th selection of the 2012 NBA Draft. He was selected by the Houston Rockets and signed a $1.7 million two-year contract. He has not played a game for the Rockets. His only professional basketball has been with the Vipers, the Rockets entry into the NBA Development League.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury:

In defense of Royce White:

Royce White suffers from serious mental illness, an obsessive-compulsive disorder and an anxiety disorder. As a ten-year-old during a basketball practice, he saw his best friend collapse, drool from the mouth, and be rushed to the hospital for cardiac abnormality. His fears began then.

Since that incident, he has had an aversion to conditioning runs. Among other areas of concern, he cannot get on an airplane. Avoiding conditioning exercises and not flying (the Rockets schedule would include 98 flights) have caused much consternation for the NBA Houston Rockets. Mr. White firmly believes that it is the responsibility of the Rockets to accommodate his mental health issues. They signed him to a contract knowing his mental disorder and, therefore, should be at the forefront in helping him accommodate his illness with his ability to play basketball. His claim is that mental illness is no different than a physical ailment that would keep one from playing basketball. He has been willing to take a 68 hour bus ride in order to play two games for the Vipers. He wants to play for the Rockets, but he will not risk his physical and mental health to do so. He, rightfully so, listens to his personal doctor and does not trust the advice offered by the Rockets’ medical personnel. Through cooperation and understanding, it is up to the Rockets to make it work.

In defense of the Rockets:

The Houston Rockets drafted Royce White because he was the only player in the nation to lead his team (Iowa State) in 5 major statistical categories. His talent and his achievements at the NBA Scouting Combine made him a very attractive selection for our organization. The Rockets, also, knew he had endured 20 flights for travel during the season at Iowa State. Houston was made aware, early on in negotiations, that Mr. White would require some special accommodations – a personal bus being one of them so he could avoid flying. We made the accommodations requested and he signed the contract. It was Mr. White who decided that we were not doing enough to handle his anxiety disorder and he became absent from the team. He just stopped coming to work. The Rockets assigned him to the Vipers in order to reintegrate him into the organization. He has now quit the Vipers and returned to Houston for the rest of the season on the advice of HIS physician. The Houston Rockets have done all they can do to accommodate Royce White’s condition. It is up to him to make it work.

Who is right here – Royce White or the Houston Rockets?

You decide and since I defended both, I, happily, cannot lose my first case!



  1. I find the only way to avoid getting caught up in all the March Madness games is to just not watch. Every time I go to a game, I find myself staying with it until the outcome is decided and checking the scoreboard at the top of the screen to see where I should be focusing my attention. It is addicting, for sure. CBS has really adapted the tournament to the fan – every game in its entirety!
  2. I do have one complaint about the NCAA broadcasts, however. If you are a basketball junkie like me, I just can’t take watching the same commercials over and over again.
  3. Tiger Woods distracted me from basketball at times on Saturday, playing in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He is starting to look even better than he was before all the problems. Sunday’s round was rained out. Good. No distraction.
  4. My former announcing buddy, Dick Tracy, is hawking hot dogs for Potts’ in Northampton just to keep busy. Last week, when a customer asked what he recommended, he said, with that glint in his eye, “Go to Yocco’s!”.
  5. Passover, Good Friday, and Easter are all this week. Spend some quality time with your family.