The most famous alumnus of the No. 1-ranked Gonzaga men’s basketball team cannot attend Bulldogs home games due to his refusal to comply with the school’s mask mandate.
Hall of Fame point guard John Stockton, the NBA’s all-time assists leader, revealed Saturday in an interview with the (Spokane, Washington) Spokesman-Review that he’s had his season tickets suspended because of an ongoing dispute with school officials.
“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,” said Stockton, who has been a prominent critic of COVID-19 vaccines, mask mandates and shutdown measures.
Stockton, one of only two basketball players in school history to have his jersey retired, told the newspaper his conversations with athletic director Chris Standiford about the decision were “congenial,” but “not pleasant.”
In a June documentary, Stockton claimed vaccines were responsible for the deaths of many unnamed professional athletes.
“I think it’s highly recorded now, there’s 150 I believe now, it’s over 100 professional athletes dead – professional athletes – the prime of their life, dropping dead that are vaccinated, right on the pitch, right on the field, right on the court,” he said.
Gonzaga officials declined the newspaper’s request for comment on Stockton’s situation, but did issue a statement that said, in part: “We take enforcement of COVID-19 health and safety protocols seriously and will continue to evaluate how we can best mitigate the risks posed by COVID-19 with appropriate measures.”
Stockton was the first player in school history to win conference player of the year honors. He went on to play 19 seasons in the NBA with the Utah Jazz, retiring after the 2002-03 season as a 10-time All-Star and the league’s career leader in both assists (15,806) and steals (3,265). He was named to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.
Despite the school’s decision, Stockton said he didn’t think his relationship with his alma mater was beyond repair.
“I’m sure we’ll get through it,” he said, “but it’s not without some conflict.”