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  • For Stockton, one final, killer turnover

For Stockton, one final, killer turnover

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Brainstorming how possibly to make sense of the John Stockton lightning bolt of a few days ago, I was alerted to my latest incoming e-mail.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune wrote that hospitals in that area have suspended a long-standing program of diverting ambulances from their emergency departments when they’re overcrowded. ER closures, something that used to be a random occurrence, are now so routine because of Covid-19 that some ambulances were changing course multiple times during one transport.

Stuff like this must somehow have escaped Stockton during his professed “thousands of hours” of research into Covid-19 and its auxiliary issues.

In a detailed interview with the Spokesman-Review of Spokane the other day, Stockton sought to explain his side of the impasse that caused Gonzaga to suspend his season tickets at GU basketball games because of his refusal to comply with the school’s mask mandate. He had touched on these views in a Utah-based anti-vaccine video project last year.

At the end of the S-R interview, the paper posted this italicized editor’s note, in itself rather remarkable: “Many of the claims made by Stockton regarding Covid-19 and vaccines are not backed by science nor deemed credible by medical professionals . . . “

In other words: “We don’t know what would cause the NBA’s all-time assists leader to go rogue and spew out such chunks of cockamamie horse pucky, but take them with a grain of salt, kind of like you would if the One America News Network claimed Rand Paul’s ancestors discovered America.”

Good for Gonzaga for making an uncomfortable call on this, but the right one.

Poor Chris Standiford. All he’s had to do in his first five months as athletic director is mete out discipline for a DUI incurred by his future hall of fame basketball coach Mark Few, and then confront Stockton’s flights of fancy.

Stockton alleges that “over 100” vaccinated professional athletes “in the prime of their life” have dropped dead, “right on the pitch, right on the field, right on the court.”

He also insists there are “20,000 deaths from the vaccine that the CDC acknowledges from their VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System), which they acknowledge accounts for only one percent of actual.”

I believe this is the first time I’ve heard the number 20,000 invoked by an athlete since Wilt Chamberlain, the NBA great, claimed to have slept with 20,000 different women. Wilt’s assessment appears more credible.

Stockton says he has spent “well over 1,000 hours” researching Covid-19. Who knows, that could be true. He also referenced “thousands of hours” spent on this. Just know that 1,000 hours works out to about six months of 40-hour weeks, or a full-time job for half a year.

We can glean insight into Stockton’s mind-frame with his statement to the Spokesman-Review that he gravitated toward a “holistic” approach to healing partly because he had a negative experience with anti-inflammatory drugs when he was a player.

From there, apparently, he grew sufficiently entrenched in his beliefs that it became too much of an imposition to wear a piece of cloth on his face at a Gonzaga basketball game. What for many of us is worthy of investing only an eye-roll became a position paper for him.

I’m guessing this is not entirely a shock to people around Gonzaga, because the school has known for a long time he’s a little different.

I’ve had a few moments around Stockton, all of them, well, odd.

In 1999, the year Gonzaga burst onto the national stage, the Zags had just beaten Florida to crash the Elite Eight, and, for an off-day story, my paper was gathering reaction from prominent alums. I took on the challenge of finding Stockton, and was proud to discover the hotel in Charlotte where his visiting Utah Jazz were about to play the Hornets.

They rang his room. Stockton might have been napping, and if that’s the case, I’m sorry. I identified myself and asked if I could get his response to the Zags’ improbable run.

“I don’t do interviews on game day,” Stockton said.

This wasn’t going well.

“I understand,” I said. “Could I just get a sentence from you on their run?”

“No,” he said. End of conversation.

In other words, “The Zags are a win over UConn today from a trip to the Final Four. Reached in Charlotte, John Stockton had no comment.”

In 2002, I wrote “Bravehearts,” a book on the rise of Gonzaga basketball. I wanted to see if Stockton might write the foreword. I went through a administrator friend at Gonzaga, who forwarded this reply: “Why should I do something for a guy who’s just trying to make money off the program?”

Hmm. Apparently, once you have the germ of an opinion, it becomes very hard to knock you off that opinion.

About 2014, I was writing about David Stockton, the overachieving guard who is John’s son. It seemed to scream out for an observation or two from the dad (or at least an attempt to get one). At this point, I had covered probably 75 Gonzaga games over 15 seasons.

I approached GU’s sports publicist. He didn’t handle Matters Stockton. He referred me to another longtime operative in the athletic department, whom I knew pretty well, and I made the request. Days passed. Nothing. I got back to my contact. Still nothing. The campaign died a slow death.

Maybe I didn’t miss that much.
#theslipperstillfits #unitedwezag #wcchoops #wccsports #zaghoops #zagsmbb #zagup

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