Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: John Stockton's COVID-19 comments make us look like 'dumb jocks' – USA TODAY

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar criticized fellow Basketball Hall of Famer John Stockton’s comments about COVID-19 mask mandates and vaccines on Wednesday. 
“I think statements like (Stockton’s) make the public look upon athletes as basically dumb jocks for trying to explain away something this is obviously a pandemic, and the best way to fight pandemics is through vaccination and testing,” Abdul-Jabbar said during a CNN appearance following Stockton’s interview with The Spokesman-Review discussing why he is unable to attend Gonzaga basketball games. “Those are the means by which we identify the problem and do our best to mitigate it. 
“I don’t understand anyone saying anything else that makes sense. It doesn’t make sense what he’s saying,” Abdul-Jabbar continued. “This is a preventative measure that has been useful in many different circumstances.”
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In the interview with The Spokesman-Review last week, Stockton confirmed he is no longer allowed to attend Bulldogs games for refusing to wear a mask during games. Stockton, one of the university’s most notable basketball alumni, played at Gonzaga from 1980-84.
“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,” said the 19-year veteran for the Jazz. “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 suspend my tickets.”
Detlef Schrempf, who had a 16-year career and was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks in 1985, also chimed in on social media with his thoughts on Stockton’s comments.
“Bat (expletive) crazy,” Schrempf wrote on Twitter. “I am so disappointed we have so many role models not up to the task. This is not Helping!”
Unwilling to reconsider his stance on mask mandates, Stockton hopes his relationship with the school can stay intact.
“There’s probably a lot of different directions this can go, and I think time will tell on all of that,” said Stockton. “My focus is to maintain that relationship, as is theirs. They’ve made it very clear that we’re important to each other and I don’t think that’s going to change. However, there are some absolute impasses that we’re going to figure out.
“I’ve been around here a long time, so I don’t expect things to linger, whatever they may be.”
Contact Analis Bailey at aabailey@usatoday.com or on Twitter @analisbailey.


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