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A star Rockets rookie faces his fear of flying
“You may see a trend with him that he performs much better in home games than he does in away games,” Edger said. “Another thing he’s going to have to consider is that he may get worn out. If he’s traveling on his own, that will probably take more time. He may not get quality rest between games.”
“With any type of fear, that leads to doubt and that can lead to performing tentatively,” Edger said. “That can take your head out of a game and lead to mistakes.”
White’s anxiety was never a secret. Now 21, he’s been open about it since he was diagnosed in 2007. But his ideal combination of size _ 6-foot-8, 260 pounds _ and talent proved irresistible to NBA teams.
He was a prep star in Minnesota and went to college at Minnesota, where all did not go smoothly. He arrested at the Mall of America, accused of shoplifting two shirts valued at $100 and assaulting a security guard. He was suspended and withdrew from school, sat out the 2010-11 season and transferred to Iowa State.
He didn’t miss a game last season, and his play blossomed. White was the only Division I player to lead his team in scoring (13.4), rebounding (9.3), assists (5.0), blocks (0.9) and steals (1.2). He earned all-Big 12 honors and took the Cyclones to their first NCAA tournament appearance in seven years.
He laughs now that “15 or 16” NBA teams offered to fly him to their cities for workouts _ only so they could inquire about his fear of flying. A few months ago, that idea scared him to death.
“I had to stop those,” he said. “It was too much. They made me anxious, and then wanted to ask me about anxiety, you know?”
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey called him a “top-five” talent and a “pretty unique player” at the introductory news conference for White and fellow first-round draft picks Jeremy Lamb and Terrence Jones.
“We got comfortable with him,” Morey said at the time.
Hoiberg did not return a phone message from The Associated Press on Thursday.
Over the summer, it seemed as if White had learned to corral his “aerophobia.” He flew with the team to its summer league mini-season in Las Vegas, then flew to New York City for NBA rookie orientation. As training camp approached, though, something didn’t feel right.
“I was just feeling like, `You know what? I don’t see how this is going to work,’” he said. “It’s honest to just say, `I have some anxiety.’ It’s a whole different level of honesty to say to the Rockets, `I have anxiety, and this is what I need to do to be healthy and can you accommodate me?’ I felt that it was necessary to take that step.”
He signed a standard contract with the Rockets, and it made no mention of his disorder. He doesn’t expect to amend that contract, or draft a new one to lay out his travel arrangement with the team.
By Bob Dole
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