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Gonzaga University has suspended alumnus and NBA Hall of Fame player John Stockton's season tickets after he refused to comply with the school's recent interview with The Spokesman-Review.mask mandate at games, he confirmed in a
Stockton, 59, who has previously spread misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines, told the newspaper he's had many conversations with the school over the last two years about the mask policy until the school's athletic director notified him of the decision to ban him.
"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."
According to the school website, fans over the age of 5 must wear face mask coverings over their nose and mouth while inside the McCarthey Athletic Center. Fans over the age 12 and older must provide proof of vaccination or provide a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours. Gonzaga University said in a statement that the school is committed to implementing health and safety protocols.
"We will not speak to specific actions taken with any specific individuals," the statement said. "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 Utah Jazz legend told the newspaper he can't attend games unless the mask mandate changes. Stockton, who is from Spokane, Washington, played for the university from 1980 to 1984.
Stockton — the all-time NBA leader in assists and steals — expressed his stance against the COVID vaccine in a documentary last year, falsely linking the vaccine to the deaths of more than 100 pro athletes, The Spokesman-Review reported.
"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," he said.
The claim went viral over the weekend, with many sports figures criticizing Stockton, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The Los Angeles Lakers legend told CNN on Monday that Stockton's comments made athletes look like "dumb jocks" and defended the use of the COVID-19 vaccines.
"I don't understand anyone saying anything else," he said. "It doesn't make sense what he's saying. This is a preventative measure that has been useful in many different circumstances."