The National Basketball Association (NBA) mourns the death of former Portland Trail Blazers forward Jerome Kersey on Feb. 18. The cause of his death has not been confirmed, per the team's official website.
Former Portland Trail Blazers forward Jerome Kersey has passed away at the age of 52.
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The Blazers confirmed Kersey's death via a press release on their official website on Feb. 18. He had been the team's director of alumni relations as part of its social responsibility department.
Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen honored Kersey in the team's press release. He said,"Today we lost an incredible person and one of the most beloved players to ever wear a Trail Blazers uniform. My thoughts and condolences are with the Kersey family. He will be missed by all of us. It's a terrible loss."
Trail Blazers president and CEO Chris McGowan expressed shock and disbelief over Kersey's passing on the team's official website:
"We're shocked to lose such a great member of our Trail Blazers family. 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."
The Oregonian's Bruce Ely reported on Wednesday that Kersey's cause of death remains unknown. Ely labeled the Trail Blazers great's passing as "unexpected" and "shocking." Just the day before he died, Kersey was at Portland's Madison High School for a speaking engagement along with fellow former Trail Blazers Terry Porter and Brian Grant about Black History Month.
According to Comcast SportsNet (via KGW.com), Kersey had surgery earlier this week. He told colleagues with the Trail Blazers at their Rose Quarter office that he didn't feel well and will take the rest of the day off.
The Lake Oswego Fire Department then answered an emergency call at 5 p.m. on Wednesday and rushed to Kersey's house. He was shortly taken to Legacy Meridian Medical Center in Tualatin, Ore. where he died. The hospital's spokeswoman confirmed the news to Ely.
Kersey was best known for being part of the early 1990's Portland teams which featured the likes of Porter, Clyde Drexler, Kevin Duckworth and Buck Williams. Kersey was the starter of the 1990 and 1992 Trail Blazers teams that made the NBA Finals against the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls, respectively, per Ely.
Kersey starred at little-known Longwood College in Virginia. However, his work ethic and athleticism got the attention of the Blazers' scouts. Portland eventually drafted him 46th overall in the 1984 NBA draft, per Ely.
He went on to spend 11 of his 17 NBA seasons in Portland. According to The Oregonian, he ranks in the team's Top 10 in several statistical categories: scoring (fifth), rebounding (third), steals (third), blocks (sixth) and assists (eighth).
Only Drexler (867) suited up in more games as a Trail Blazer than Kersey (831), says Ely. Kersey won an NBA championship ring with the San Antonio Spurs in 1999.
Kersey was a regular fixture at Trail Blazers community functions once he retired from the NBA. Drexler told KGW.com Kersey "was the greatest guy, the nicest teammate, friend and brother."
"Kersey is survived by his wife,Teri, and four daughters," per Ely.
Kersey averaged 10.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists during his 17-year NBA career with the Blazers, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers, Seattle SuperSonics and Spurs. His best year came during the 1987-88 NBA season, when he averaged 19.2 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists, per Basketball-Reference.com.
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