Former Utah Jazz star and NBA Hall of Famer John Stockton has revealed himself to be a big fan of erstwhile Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving — not for his basketball skills, but for his anti-vaccine status.
According to a report from the New York Daily News, Stockton recently made a guest appearance on the “DNP-CD Sports Podcast,” alongside vaccine skeptic podcast hosts Chad Fisher and Tony Farmer. On the podcast episode, which is due to be released Monday, Stockton railed against both vaccine manufacturers and mandates, and applauded Irving’s refusal to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
“You have a lot of supporters, Kyrie. Not all them of can get to you, and you can’t get to all of them, but there’s every bit a majority out there that’s sitting there pulling for you. They’re just not quite as bold as he is,” Stockton was quoted as saying by the Daily News. “I’m proud of him as an individual to take that kind of individual risk and be that bold for what you feel is right.”
Irving, a seven-time NBA All-Star, has yet to play a game this season because New York City imposed a mandate barring individuals who have not had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine from entering indoor gyms, bars, restaurants, and entertainment venues. With Irving effectively rendered unable to play home games at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the Nets took the step of holding him out of the team’s road games as well, and told him to stay away from the team until he is vaccinated.
This marks the second time that Stockton, the NBA’s all-time leader in assists and steals, has gone public with his anti-vaccination position.
He previously appeared in a vaccine conspiracy and misinformation documentary produced by a Utah-based company, in which he claimed to have done “significant research” on COVID-19 and concluded that it is “not a very dangerous one by comparison to other viruses.”
The former point guard so synonymous with the Utah Jazz that he has both a statue in front of Vivint Arena and an adjoining street named after him, praised Irving “for stepping up,” noting that he has lost myriad endorsements, in addition to forfeiting about half of his $35.1 million salary this season.
Stockton said that as a young player, he probably would have gone along with a doctor’s recommendation and taken the vaccine, but that would have changed once he gained some status in the league.
“There’s not a chance I would risk any of that to play,” Stockton said. “My hope would be other guys would join in. And all of us lock arms. And none of us play.”
He apparently made more outlandish claims on this new podcast, with much of ire apparently directed at the “serial felons” heading up pharmaceutical companies, who — according to him — have convinced doctors to push dangerous vaccines on the basis of fraudulent research.
“Almost each one across the board, they’ve been convicted and paid astronomical sums for the frauds they’ve committed and yet it doesn’t seem like it’s known,” he said.
As the Daily News notes: “It’s unclear what felonies Stockton is referencing, but Pfizer, the manufacturer of an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine, agreed to pay $2.3 billion in a civil case over 12 years ago for misbranding medicines and giving kickbacks to doctors.”
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control has said that the COVID-19 vaccine has been proven both safe and effective through clinical trials, and judged long-term side effects to be “extremely unlikely.”