NBA Hall of Famer John Stockton revealed over the weekend that Gonzaga University suspended his season tickets for defying its mask mandates at home games.
In an interview with The Spokesman-Review, Stockton said that the university received several complaints regarding his unwillingness to wear a mask at Gonzaga basketball games.
“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,” Stockton said. “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.”
But it was Stockton’s comments on the COVID-19 vaccine in the June documentary “COVID and the Vaccine: Truth, Lies and Misconceptions Revealed,” that caused outrage.
In the documentary, Stockton made the unfounded claim that more than 100 professional athletes have died from the COVID-19 vaccine.
“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,” Stockton said in the interview.
The claim was too much for CNN and the NBA’s all-time leading scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
“I think statements like that [Stockton’s] make the public look upon athletes as basically dumb jocks for trying to explain away something this is obviously a pandemic, and the best way to fight pandemics is through vaccination and testing,” Abdul-Jabbar said during a CNN appearance. “Those are the means by which we identify the problem and do our best to mitigate it.”
“I don’t understand anyone saying anything else that makes sense. It doesn’t make sense what he’s saying,” Abdul-Jabbar continued. “This is a preventative measure that has been useful in many different circumstances.”
Abdul-Jabbar went on to implore Stockton to “check the facts out.”
“I think John’s reaction to the vaccine is extreme and not based on reality or facts,” Abdul-Jabbar added. “And if John could just check the facts out, he would understand that this vaccine is saving lives and preventing people from having serious reactions from the virus. It won’t eliminate the virus overnight, but it will stop people from dying and it will stop people from becoming seriously ill.”
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s full comments calling out John Stockton on CNN Monday morning.
— The Sporting News (@sportingnews) January 24, 2022
Abdul-Jabbar has been an advocate for the vaccine since it became available, even receiving his shot on video. He told Rolling Stone in a September article that NBA players refusing the jab are contributing to deaths from COVID-19.
“They are failing to live up to the responsibilities that come with celebrity. Athletes are under no obligation to be spokespersons for the government, but this is a matter of public health,” the Hall of Famer told Rolling Stone in an email. Abdul-Jabbar is especially disappointed in athletes of color: “By not encouraging their people to get the vaccine, they’re contributing to these deaths. I’m also concerned about how this perpetuates the stereotype of dumb jocks who are unable to look at verified scientific evidence and reach a rational conclusion.”
Stockton told the Spokesman-Review that he hopes to retain a relationship with the university, despite the suspension of his season tickets.
“There’s probably a lot of different directions this can go, and I think time will tell on all of that,” he said. “My focus is to maintain that relationship, as is theirs. They’ve made it very clear that we’re important to each other and I don’t think that’s going to change. However, there are some absolute impasses that we’re going to figure out.”
“I’ve been around here a long time, so I don’t expect things to linger, whatever they may be,” he added.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to [email protected]
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