John Stockton is one of the greatest basketball players of all time. His renowned career with the Utah Jazz earned him a reputation as one of the greatest point guards and passers of all time.
He is the NBA’s leader in steals and assists.
“There absolutely, positively, will never ever be another John Stockton — ever,” Karl Malone, one of Stockton’s teammates, once told NBA History.
He set the record with 3,265 steals throughout his career.
Stockton went to Gonzaga University from 1980 to 1984. Gonzaga has had plenty of its athletes go on to the NBA, such as Jalen Suggs and Domantas Sabonis. But Stockton is far and away the greatest legend to ever come out of Gonzaga.
“Some play a position exquisitely, just as it was designed. That would be John Stockton at point guard,” NBA History wrote about him.
But despite his accolades and legendary status, Stockton has been banned from Gonzaga home games for refusing to comply with the university’s mask mandate.
Stockton’s jersey hangs from the rafters and he is a season ticket holder. But he was alerted by Gonzaga Athletic Director Chris Standiford that he was no longer welcome at games, as Washington state’s Spokesman-Review reported.
Stockton said the conversation with Standiford was “congenial” but “not pleasant.”
“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,” he added.
Standiford issued a public statement about the university’s decision, as ESPN reported.
“We will not speak to specific actions taken with any specific individuals,” the statement read. “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. The recent decision to suspend concessions in McCarthey Athletic Center is an example of this approach. Gonzaga University places the highest priority on protecting the health and safety of students, employees and the community.”
Gonzaga requires either proof of vaccination or a negative test 72 hours before a game. The school also reportedly became stricter with the mask mandate after it closed concessions at games.
Throughout the pandemic, Stockton has been outspoken about his opposition to the vaccine, lockdowns and mask mandates.
In a Saturday interview with the Spokesman-Review about his suspension from home games, he asserted that the vaccine is dangerous, even for 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,” Stockton said.
His claims have not been verified, as the Spokesman-Review reported, but Stockton made his opposition to how the pandemic has been handled clear.
Last summer, he also added his voice to a documentary called “COVID and the Vaccine: Truth, Lies and Misconceptions Revealed,” as KXAN-TV reported.
He said that Gonzaga’s decision to suspend him from home games, “stresses” his relationship with his alma mater.
“I’ve been part of this campus since I was probably 5 or 6 years old. I was just born a couple blocks away and sneaking into the gym and selling programs to get into games since I was a small boy. So, it’s strained but not broken, and I’m sure we’ll get through it, but it’s not without some conflict,” Stockton told the Spokesman-Review.
Stockton said his tickets will be re-offered when the mask mandate is changed.
Gonzaga is 15-2 this season and ranked just behind the 18-1 Auburn. With March just around the corner, Gonzaga’s odds are looking good.
But unless the university changes its mask mandate, it will probably will not be until the 2022-23 season that Stockton will be in the Kennel at games again, as the Spokesman-Review predicted.
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