http://www.csnnw.com/blazers/ex-blazer-jerome-kersey-dead-52Portland lost one of its most beloved Trail Blazers Wednesday.
Jerome Kersey was drafted by Portland in the second round of the 1984 draft, the 46th player chosen, out of little-known Longwood College. He would go on to a 17-year NBA career, the first 11 seasons with the Trail Blazers. He later worked as an ambassador for the team and also as a panelist on CSN's "Talkin' Ball" show after Trail Blazer games. He died at the age of 52.
"It is so sad," said former Portland teammate Clyde Drexler, his voice cracking over the telephone. "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."
Kersey came to Portland's summer camp in 1984 as an unheralded and raw small-forward prospect with great energy and leaping ability. After watching him for a time, then-Portland Coach Jack Ramsay encouraged Kersey to play his rookie season in Europe, where he would get regular playing time.
But Kersey felt he was an NBA player and would have none of that. He forced Ramsay's hand and proved too promising to be cut after fall training camp. Even though he started only 10 total games through his first three seasons, he quickly became a fan favorite due to his all-out effort, energy, defensive ability and rebounding. Within the league he became known as the "Rundown Man" for his ability to chase down players about to make a layup in the open court, and block their shot.
He averaged 10.3 points and 5.5 rebounds per game throughout his career.
After finishing his playing career he served as an assistant coach in the NBA and has worked for the Trail Blazers. When he left the Blazers in 1995 he was at or near the top of virtually every important statistical category, including games played, minutes, points, rebounds, blocked shots and assists.
He is survived by wife Teri and their four children.
Former Oregon star quarterback Joey Harrington grew up watching Kersey play for the Trail Blazers and later became a friend.
"He was the heart and soul of that team," Harrington said. "He played so hard that you had to love him. In an era of superstars he played as hard as any of them."
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.