Gordon Monson: Jerry Sloan would’ve thrown John Stockton out of the gym had the guard gone rogue, the way he has on good science

The Hall of Fame point guard has been outspoken against COVID-19 vaccines and policies, and most recently lost his Gonzaga season tickets for refusing to wear a mask at games

Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune Former Jazzman John Stockton is interviewed as Jazz players from the 1997 team were reunited at the Jazz practice facility in 2017. In recent months, the Hall of Fame point guard has spoken out against COVID-19 vaccines, expressed support for unvaccinated NBA star Kyrie Irving and, most recently, has given up his season tickets at Gonzaga rather than agree to wear a mask in the arena.

Nobody’s sure what John Stockton is trying to prove with his ongoing anti-vaccination and anti-mask statements and actions.

Everybody’s sure what he’s trying to disprove.

Science and medical research.

It’s more than ironic that one of the most unselfish point guards to ever play basketball, the guy who not only looked for the best ways possible to deliver the ball to teammates so they could score, and the team could win, but who also dutifully and respectfully looked over to his coach after nearly every defensive rebound to see what play that coach wanted him to run, is so hard-headed, so stubborn and outspoken in this particular manner now.

He gave up his seats at Gonzaga rather than follow instruction to wear a mask in the arena?

What would Jerry Sloan have said about that kind of defiance?

He would have told Stockton, in classic Jerryspeak, to get his [expletive expletive] in line and follow proper instruction, that’s what he would have said. And Stockton would have complied.

Where’s Coach Sloan when he is so needed?

There are a thousand versions of opinion about COVID-19, its cause, its effect, its seriousness, the way it should be treated, the way it should be handled, the way its spread should or should not be curtailed.

Stockton has his opinions.

But they run counter to what the majority of the best minds in science and medicine believe, the medical world’s Jerry Sloans.

That’s not just misguided, it’s dangerous.

There already are enough people around here who turn their backs on what the vast number of people who have studied infectious diseases for as long as Stockton bounced a basketball without the Hall of Famer adding to their combo-pack of distrust and ignorance.

It’s understood that there are a few medical minds who throw in with what Stockton chooses to believe. You can’t get everyone to agree on anything these days.

But the majority of doctors and researchers from everywhere from Johns Hopkins to the University of Utah medical school insist that the best way to prevent spread of the virus and save lives is to get vaccinated, get boosted, wear masks.

And yet, Stockton appears in anti-vaccination videos and resists and speaks out against what experts say, relying instead on his own research.

John Wooden once told me, straight to my face, that Stockton was his favorite NBA player to watch, the reason being the guard’s sound grounding in the fundamentals of basketball, his adherence to the fundamentals that a basketball mind like Wooden’s could and did appreciate and respect.

But Stockton’s stances now run directly opposed to medicine’s fundamentals. Agreed, these researchers and epidemiologists don’t know everything. With a pandemic that blindsided the entire planet, they have shot and missed on a couple of occasions.

Here’s the thing, though: They know a whole helluva lot more than John does, than the man who says that over 100 professional athletes have died from the vaccine. That claim would be hilarious if it weren’t so pathetic, and darn near everyone but Stockton knows this.

Stockton said he’s given this matter much thought.

And that’s even more frightening.

If he ruminates over it any more, who knows what other preposterous notions he might bump and skid into? What other widely-held scientific research and study will he try to debunk?

He’s said his distrust of modern medicine stemmed initially from the successful work a chiropractor did for him back when he was playing with the Jazz, when doctors suggested other treatments.

You have to wonder what that chiropractor would say about the spread and treatment of COVID. Would he lay everyone down on a table and start popping and cracking?

I don’t believe Stockton is a man without compassion. When Sloan was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia, the guard went searching for a cure for his coach, even convincing him to seek nontraditional treatment in the form of injections into his head.

There is, however, a distinction between that research and the so-called research Stockton is doing now. It makes sense to me that Stockton, watching an incurable disease kill a man he loved and respected, would look tirelessly for a cure. But two years into this pandemic, with more than 5 million lives lost, we know the best ways to save the ones we love.

We get it. Stockton isn’t the only one who feels the way he does, or at least who shows some shades of the way he feels. Apparently, there are a whole lot of Stockton disciples in the Utah Legislature and playing quarterback for the Green Bay Packers.

But why should anyone listen to him or them rather than the most accomplished physicians and researchers in the land? That would be like a player listening to the defiant loudmouth sitting and yelling in the upper deck at a Jazz game, the one with a bag of popcorn in one hand and a tall, cold beverage in the other, and doing what he’s instructing rather than what Quin Snyder says.

Best advice for all that hear John Stockton’s voice on this topic is to handle it the way you treat the screaming fan at the game: Ignore what he says. He bought the ticket, he can say what he wants based on the fact that he once coached his 10-year-old son’s Junior Jazz team and because he’s a conspiracy theorist who believes Snyder and his assistants have a yet-unrevealed motive for the ruination of their team, and that if they do ruin it, they’ll get some sort of cockamamie financial reward for doing so.

Stockton, as mentioned, has every right to do his thing, to spout his opinions about his thorough research.

But nobody has to listen and everybody can throw his ideas out of their minds, the way Sloan would have thrown Stockton out of the gym had he gone rogue on the coach’s well-founded basketball designs.

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