John Stockton refused to wear a mask to Gonzaga basketball games — and lost his tickets over it

Since the pandemic began, the Utah Jazz Hall of Famer has offered views that contradict scientific research on issues related to COVID-19.

(Young Kwak | The Associated Press) Retired NBA player and Gonzaga alumnus John Stockton, center, looks on before an NCAA college basketball game in 2016 between Gonzaga and Washington in Spokane, Wash. Stockton can no longer attend his alma mater’s basketball games because he refuses to wear a mask.

For the moment, 59-year-old NBA and Utah Jazz Hall of Famer John Stockton can no longer attend his alma mater’s basketball games.

That’s according to reporting from Spokane’s The Spokesman-Review, who spoke to Stockton Saturday at a nearby gym that he has owned for 20 years. The reason? Stockton refuses to comply with the university’s mask mandate while attending the 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 told The Spokesman-Review. “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.

“When the rule changes, then tickets will be re-offered,” Stockton said. “I don’t know what the right terminology is. When the rule changes.”

When Stockton was asked whether or not he considered simply wearing a mask to keep his seats, he said, “Of course. You consider everything, every option when you’re presented with something like that, and I considered it in great detail.” But ultimately, he chose to decline the tickets instead.

Stockton’s refusal to wear a mask continues a trend of the NBA’s all-time leader in assists and steals offering views that contradict scientific research on issues related to COVID-19. Stockton first went public with his opinions in a $79 video series titled “Vaccines Revealed,” a production from two Utah filmmakers. The Tribune covered those videos in June.

Back then, Stockton’s stances were mostly about frustration with government restrictions and lockdowns during the early days of the pandemic — the interview was filmed before the vaccine’s release.

Now, though, Stockton has expanded his opinions into further misinformation. In the full transcript of the interview with the Spokesman-Review, the former point guard asserted that over 100 professional athletes have died from the vaccine — a claim that has been debunked dozens of times over.

When asked how he began to form his opinions on the pandemic, Stockton cited Rudy Gobert’s positive test as a catalyst.

“It’s pretty quick. I remember writing a paper trying to have some influence where I may have it, right when it all started with Rudy Gobert testing positive,” Stockton said. “With the Utah Jazz, which is obviously very close to home. Here he is warming up before the game, he doesn’t even feel bad and the world shuts down.”

A fact check there, too: Gobert did have significant coronavirus symptoms in the days before his positive test on March 11, 2020, and did not warm up at the arena before the Jazz’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder — he was back at the team’s hotel.

“Then one university after another university until the conferences shut down and the tournament shuts down,” Stockton said. “Not one additional piece of evidence was offered for why each one did it. To me, it’s perplexing, but yeah, right from the start, I was contemplating it, thinking it through and seeking out more and more information.”

Stockton also said that he started to trend away from using traditional medicine toward the end of his NBA career, thanks to the success of a Jazz chiropractor — a move that wasn’t made “cold turkey,” he said, but gradually.

“Make a long story short, I walked into our team chiropractor’s office, who I was just starting to gain a little faith in. It was slow coming, because I grew up, my mom was a nurse, my sister was a nurse and it was a little slow coming because I didn’t trust him,” Stockton said. “But he fixed the problem in 15 minutes that I was taking anti-inflammatants for a year and a half. It opened my eyes. It didn’t sell me, but got it started.”

In addition, Stockton felt that his son’s decision to remain unvaccinated has affected his professional career. David Stockton, now playing in the G-League with the Memphis Hustle, hasn’t been called up to the NBA since the Jazz did at the end of the 2017-18 season.

“I think David has experienced that stuff. He’s played in two bubbles, he’s been separated from his family, he’s been required to test daily where nobody else has even though he hasn’t gotten COVID, the guys who’ve been vaccinated have gotten COVID,” Stockton said. “The opportunity to be called up has been restricted because of vaccine status. Really it should be nobody’s decision.”

Of course, Stockton’s not alone in his anti-vaccination views. Green Bay Packer quarterback and likely NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers has also been transparent about his beliefs, which Stockton applauded.

“I think who’s been a great source of [support for David] is Aaron Rodgers,” Stockton said. “He spoke to that very point and he’s been highly criticized and highly critical of how things are going. I admire him. He’s right in the throes. So really impressive that a star would step up like that in the prime of his career going into the playoffs and be willing to make those statements for the people that are less fortunate than him.”

Speaking of football, Stockton attended the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1 in Pasadena, Calif., between the University of Utah and Ohio State University. Face masks were required at the game, as was proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test.