Two Seattle Fans Confront NBA Commish on Sonics Betrayal

Albert Mezistrano (left) and Zev Friend (right) with NBA Commissioner David Stern.

Albert Mezistrano (left) and Zev Friend (right) with NBA Commissioner David Stern.

THEY WANTED AN APOLOGY, THEY WANTED ANSWERS, THEY GOT A  PHOTO

In the annals of history there are a few acts of betrayal so egregious, so consequential that they still reverberate to this day. On the short list of course would be the assassination of Julius Caesar by his dearest friend Brutus and the traitorous sabotage of Benedict Arnold to the fledgling United States. But as duplicitous as these acts were, to the Seattle sports fan they stand well behind the greatest treachery of them all, the selling of the Seattle Supersonics to Oklahoma  City.

Sonics Championship Parade 1979

Sonics Championship Parade 1979

Loyal Seattle sports fans long suspected a devious plan hatched between NBA Commissioner David Stern and Sonics owner Clay Bennet to steal away their beloved Supersonics for Oklahoma City. When a 2007 email exchange was uncovered revealing just that, Stern became second only to Clay Bennett as the least welcome man in the Emerald City.

Peruse any Sonics fan’s home or garage and tacked somewhere to the wall will be a dartboard with a photo of NBA Commissioner David Stern tacked to the bullseye. 

Thousands of Sonics fans have had that imaginary conversation with their bathroom mirror, fantasizing the choice words they would  have for Stern if only they had the chance. This week Two Seattle college students had that chance.

We remember

We remember

When Seattle natives and third generation Sonics fans Zev Friend and Albert Mezistrano found that the NBA Commissioner would be visiting their Yeshiva University campus in New York City this past Sunday, they knew what they had to do, what they must do. Donning their beloved Sonics gear, traditionally removed from its shrine only every June 1st, the anniversary of the day the Sonics won the 1979  NBA Championship, the two sought out one of the most notorious men in Seattle basketball lore.

The 22 year old Mezistrano arrived at the Q&A session for Stern (arranged by their college’s Athletic Department) with his same aged buddy Friend, both of them decked out in all of their Sonics glory. Stern saw Mezistrano and Friend’s hands raised, and perhaps inspired by a tinge of guilt called on them.  “I asked about the documentary Sonicsgate” said Mezistrano referring to the 2009 film that focused on the scandalous corporate and political reasons why the Sonics left Seattle and became the Oklahoma City Thunder in July 2008. “The truth is I hadn’t seen the documentary since it came out like five years ago” recalled Mezistrano, “but I vaguely remembered there being some sketchy emails about how it was known from when Clay Bennet took over the team that he always wanted to move the team”. When Stern tried to politely redirect the conversation, lauding the boys for their dedication, Friend fired the follow up question, asking Stern about those “sketchy emails”. 

Friend recalls “He brushed off our public questions of how he responded to allegations of emails between him and Clay Bennett by saying that he didn’t remember those ever happening!” Regaining his composure Stern reminisced for the boys how he cooperated with the investigation of the Sonics/Oklahoma City shenanigans. “He responded in a seemingly friendly manner” said Friend ” mentioning that he had gone to Olympia to testify in that trial and even offered suggestions of how to make monetary sense out of building that new stadium (players taking pay cuts) but like the politician that he is he was able to maneuver around the questions without saying anything of substance or value.” 

By that time the boys charm offensive had worn thin “Stern told us he appreciated our dedication” said Mezistrano and moved on to less uncomfortable questions from other students. The event ended without the answers and apologies they had hoped to procure, not just for themselves but for all the dejected, rejected, ever loyal, ever hopeful Sonics fans back home. They were not going to leave empty handed though. 

As the event concluded the two Sonics fans, pushed themselves forward towards Stern with the righteous indignation that can only come from the truly wronged. Stern nervously acknowledged the approaching boys with the Sonics logo emblazoned across their chests. Friend told The Mike Report that “finally after kinda forcing my way onto his shoulder for a picture with Albert he said “anything I can do for the broken-hearted Sonics fan” although he seemed very hesitant and unhappy that the picture was being taken.” Ahhh sweet revenge… or something.

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