John Stockton, one of the most celebrated basketball players in history, is barred from attending games at his alma mater, Gonzaga University, because of an unwillingness to comply with the school’s mask mandate. Stockton revealed that his season tickets were revoked in an interview with The Spokesman Review published on Sunday.
Stockton described the conversation with the university officials as both “congenial” and “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. Stockton added that he was told that officials had “received complaints” about Stockton’s refusal to wear the mask.
A spokesperson for Gonzaga University, which is in Spokane, Wash., declined to comment on Stockton specifically, but said in a statement: “Attendees at basketball games are required to wear face masks at all times.”
The university reinstituted an indoor mask mandate in August, as the more aggressive Delta variant of Covid-19 was spreading all over the world. To attend games at the McCarthey Athletic Center, where the school’s basketball teams play, attendees who are 12 years and older are required to show proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test within the past 72 hours. The school also paused its food and beverage service at all ticketed sporting events.
Stockton, who spent his entire N.B.A. career with the Utah Jazz, is known as one of the greatest point guards in the history of the league. His tenure spanned from 1984 to 2003, during which he made 10 All-Star teams and became the all time leader in assists. He also spent four years at Gonzaga, which is in Stockton’s hometown, and became the university’s most famous athletic alum. Both the Jazz and Gonzaga retired his number in 2004. Two of Stockton’s children, David and Laura, played basketball at his alma mater, and a third child, Sam, spent a season around the team without playing before transferring.
In recent years, Stockton has been a vocal opponent of Covid-19 vaccines and government measures to mitigate the virus. Last month, Stockton said on a podcast that he was “proud” of Kyrie Irving, the Nets star, for his refusal to get vaccinated, which has kept Irving out of Nets home games because of local restrictions. In his interview with the Spokesman Review, Stockton made unsubstantiated claims about the vaccines. And over the summer, Stockton made headlines for appearing in an anti-vaccine documentary titled “Covid and the Vaccine: Truth, Lies and Misconceptions Revealed.”
“This isn’t a virus cheating us of this opportunity,” Stockton said on the documentary. “It’s the guys making decisions saying, ‘No, no we’re too scared. We’re going to shut everything down. Sit in your house and be careful.’”