Fan favorite Jerome Kersey, whose career spanned 17 NBA seasons, has died, according to the Portland Trailblazers through a news release.
ESPN is reporting that Kersey passed away at the age of 52, though no immediate cause of death has been reported. Kersey was currently serving as a team ambassador Tuesday, when he and former Trailblazers Terry Porter and Brian Grant were visiting a local high school in celebration of African-American history month.
Kersey, a 6 foot 7 inch small forward spent 11 seasons in Portland, who drafted him out of Longwood University in the second round in 1984. Kersey was a starter for Portland’s 1990 and 1992 NBA Finals runner-up teams, playing alongside former Trailblazer greats Clyde Drexler and Kiki Vandeweghe. He ended up playing for five other teams, and eventually won a championship with the San Antonio Spurs in 1999. He officially retired in 2001.
“Today we lost an incredible person and one of the most beloved players to ever wear a Trail Blazers uniform,” Blazers owner Paul Allen said via statement. “My thoughts and condolences are with the Kersey family. He will be missed by all of us. It’s a terrible loss.”
“It is so sad,” Drexler told Comcast Sports Northwest upon being told of Kersey’s death. “It is a huge loss for the Portland community. He was the greatest guy, the nicest friend, teammate and brother. He was loved by everyone. We will all miss him. He just cared so much. This is unbelievable.”
At Longwood, a Division II school in Farmville, Virginia, Kersey averaged 17 points and 11.3 assists.
Yahoo! Sports is reporting that Kersey averaged 10.3 points and 5.5 rebounds in 17 seasons in the NBA with Portland, the Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Seattle Supersonics, the San Antonio Spurs and Milwaukee Bucks.
Kersey had his best season in 1987-88, averaging 19.2 points and 8.3 rebounds. Kersey played in 1,153 regular-season games, also averaging 1.9 assists and 1.2 steals.
Kersey ranks second on Portland’s career games list with 831, third in minutes played at 21,400, second in rebounds with 5,078, third steals with 1,059, and fifth in points with 10,067. Upon his retirement, he served as an assistant coach with the Trailblazers when Terry Porter was named head coach. He also participated in Trailblazer broadcasts on Comcast SportsNet Northwest.
Dubbed “No Mercy” Kersey, fans were drawn to him because of his warm demeanor, broad smile, and a tenacity on the court.
”The news is so sudden, and we’re sure more details will be forthcoming,” Blazers President Chris McGowan said. ”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.”
Kersey is survived by his wife, Teri, currently of Lake Oswego, OR.
[Lead image via BlackSportsOnline. Image courtesy of the Union Times of San Diego.]