One of the most memorable players in the history of the Portland Trail Blazers franchise has died. As reported by Yahoo’s own Marc Spears andKGW News in Portland, veteran forward Jerome Kersey has died at the age of 52 years old.
The Blazers released a statement on their website:
A beloved figure and one of the most prolific Portland Trail Blazers, Jerome Kersey, has passed away at age 52. Cause of death has not been confirmed. A long-time resident of Portland after his 17-year NBA career, Kersey was employed by the Trail Blazers as Director of Alumni Relations as part of the team’s Social Responsibility Department.
“Today we lost an incredible person and one of the most beloved players to ever wear a Trail Blazers uniform,” said Trail Blazers Owner Paul Allen. “My thoughts and condolences are with the Kersey family. He will be missed by all of us. It’s a terrible loss.”
“We’re shocked to lose such a great member of our Trail Blazers family,” said Trail Blazers President and CEO Chris McGowan. “The news is so sudden, and we’re sure more details will be forthcoming. But it is indeed a sad day for our organization, the city of Portland and the NBA. Jerome will be remembered not only for his incredible contributions on the court, but his tremendous impact in our community.”
“Jerome was an incredible influence on our players as a model for life after basketball,” said Trail Blazers President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey. “He set the bar extremely high with his long-lasting influence in this community.”
Dwight Jaynes of CSNNW.com provided some insight into what happened to Kersey:
Kersey underwent a knee surgery earlier this week and Wednesday reportedly told fellow Trail Blazer employees at the team’s Rose Quarter office that he wasn’t feeling well and was going to go home. He apparently collapsed on the way to his car. Cause of death is unknown at the time this is written.
Kersey was drafted in the second round of the historic 1984 NBA draft out of little-known Longwood University and immediately began to contribute to the Trail Blazers. After leading the NCAA in rebounding as a senior, the 6-7 Kersey transitioned into a different role as a versatile forward who could contribute as a scorer, defender, and even an effective passer. He became a starter in 1987-88, averaging 19.2 points and 8.3 rebounds per game in his finest season as a pro. Kersey started all 103 games (regular and postseason) of the Blazers’ 1989-90 season, during which they lost the NBA Finals to the Detroit Pistons in five, and all 21 postseason games of their 1991-92 journey to the Finals vs. the Chicago Bulls, where they lost in six. He was a fan favorite for his boundless energy, powerful dunks and willingness to sacrifice his own stats for the good of the team. This short clip is just a taste of what he could do:
After 11 seasons with the Blazers — all of which included playoff appearances — Kersey was made available in the 1995 Expansion Draft and was selected by the Toronto Raptors. He was released before the season, however, starting a period in which the Portland mainstay became a journeyman. Kersey hopped from the Golden State Warriors to the Los Angeles Lakers to the Seattle SuperSonics over the next three seasons before landing with the San Antonio Spurs after the 1998-99 lockout. He won his only career championship with the Spurs that season and rejoined the team for 1999-2000 before finishing out his career with the Milwaukee Bucks in his 17th and final season. Kersey finished his career with 11, 825 points, 6,339 points, and 1,439 steals. He still ranks among the top five all-time Blazers leaders in games (2nd), points (5th), rebounds (3rd), and steals (3rd).
Kersey also spent time as an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2004-05 (under former teammate Terry Porter). He remained close to the Blazers organization and spoke to high-school students with fellow franchise greats Porter and Brian Grant earlier this week as part of a Black History Month celebration.
source: yahoo sports