Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. amplified coronavirus conspiracy theories on Tuesday, saying during a Snapchat Q&A that the pandemic is part of a "bigger agenda" and baselessly claiming COVID-19 is "being used for population control."
Porter's comments came as the United States death toll from the pandemic approaches 150,000.
"Personally I think the coronavirus is being used obviously for a bigger agenda," the second-year forward said. "It's being used for population control in terms of being able to control the masses of people. The whole world is being controlled.
"You're required to wear masks. And who knows what will happen when this vaccine comes out. You might have to have the vaccine in order to travel. Like that would be crazy."
As of Tuesday evening, there have been more than 16.6 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide, causing at least 650,000 deaths. There have been more than 4.3 million confirmed cases in the United States, leading to nearly 150,000 deaths.
Porter also said he has "never been vaccinated in my life."
"I've never had any shots or anything like that," he said. "It could get crazy. But it's definitely behind everything that's going on right now and all you could do is sit back and watch what's going on. Don't get too emotionally involved. But yeah, it is a serious thing. It is a real thing. But yes, it is being overblown."
Nuggets head coach Mike Malone said he learned of Porter Jr.'s comments Wednesday morning and told reporters that, "Obviously, I'm not the thought police, I'm not going to tell any of our players what they can and can't say. All I would say is just be sensitive to the current situation in our country and throughout the world in regards to coronavirus.
"Michael Porter and any other player on our roster, they're entitled to their opinions and ability to have free speech and I will respect that as long as it doesn't become a distraction. What Michael stated, being around our players this morning at breakfast and practice, has not become a distraction at all."
Porter Jr.'s stance on vaccinations echoed earlier comments from Lakers center Dwight Howard, who on a recent Instagram Live answered a question from a fan regarding vaccinations.
"Do I believe in vaccinations?" Howard said. "No, I don't. That's my personal opinion, but no, I don't."
Porter Jr. was the No. 14 pick in the 2018 draft. He missed all of last season due to injury but has become an important reserve on Denver's roster in 2019-20.
He is averaging 7.5 points and 4.1 rebounds per game in 14 minutes of action.
The pandemic caused the NBA to pause its 2019-20 campaign in March, with play set to resume on Thursday.