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NBA Hall of Famer banned from alma mater games for refusing to mask

John Stockton (Steve Lipofsky Commons)
January 24, 2022

Gonzaga University has barred one of its most admired former Utah Jazz basketball players and NBA Hall of Famer from attending games because of his refusal to comply with the university’s mask mandate.

Prominent Gonzaga alumnus and former NBA star John Stockton told The Spokesman Review that his season tickets to the school’s basketball games were revoked over his refusal to wear a mask.   

“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.”

Stockton said he was notified of the decision during a conversation with university officials that he described as “congenial” but “not pleasant.”

A Gonzaga University spokesperson said in a statement that the school “continues to work hard to implement and enforce the health and safety protocols mandated by the State and by University policy, including reinforcing the indoor masking requirement.”

“Attendees at basketball games are required to wear face masks at all times,” the statement continued. “We will not speak to specific actions taken with any specific individuals. 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.”

Stockton said his decades-long relationship with his alma mater is “strained, but not broken.”

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

During the interview, Stockton appeared to question COVID-19 vaccines while addressing Gonzaga’s vaccine mandate for students. He said “those children and kids their age, they have literally zero statistical risk of being harmed by the disease and they have significant statistical risk of being harmed by the side effects of the so-called vaccines.”

Stockton then said over 100 professional athletes have died due to the vaccines.

“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.