John Stockton, the National Basketball Association’s all-time assists and steals leader, told the Spokesman-Review Sunday that his alma mater Gonzaga University barred him from home basketball games for refusing to comply with the school’s mask mandate, then shared bizarre false claims about the Covid-19 vaccine.
Gonzaga, a Jesuit school in Spokane best known for its men’s basketball team’s history of success, suspended Stockton’s season tickets after its most famous alum repeatedly refused to wear a mask at games, Stockton said.
An outspoken opponent of masks and Covid-19 vaccines, Stockton shared a number of debunked conspiracy theories in the interview, such as claiming 150 professional athletes in the “prime of their life drop[ped]
dead” after receiving the Covid-19 vaccine (there’s no evidence to support this claim).
Gonzaga’s athletic director Chris Standiford did not immediately respond to Forbes’ request for comment, and declined to comment to the Spokesman-Review.
Stockton said that Standiford informed Stockton of Gonzaga’s decision during a “not pleasant” conversation: “Basically, it came down to, they were asking me to wear a mask to the games and, being a public figure, someone a little bit more visible, I stuck out in the crowd a little bit. And therefore they received complaints and felt like from whatever the higher-ups – those weren’t discussed, but from whatever it was higher up – they were going to have to either ask me to wear a mask or they were going to suspend my tickets.”
Many criticized Stockton for his claims about the Covid-19 vaccines, including The Nation sports editor Dave Zirin, who tweeted, “John Stockton believes 150 pro athletes have been killed by the vaccine. Just in case you have someone similarly unmoored from reality in your family, here’s a fact check. Conclusion: not to shock you, but it’s bullsh-t.” Conservative sports commentator Clay Travis supported Stockton’s decision to refuse to wear a mask, tweeting, “Good for Stockton here.”