Longtime Portland Trail Blazers small forward and 17-year NBA veteran Jerome Kersey died Wednesday at the age of 52.
KGW News in Portland confirmed Kersey's passing via a Trail Blazers team representative:
Mike Tokito of The Oregonian had Blazers owner Paul Allen's statement on Kersey as well as thoughts from President and CEO Chris McGowan and the team's president of basketball operations, Neil Olshey:
"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."
Jason Quick of The Oregonian also had Steve Blake's thoughts on why he switched from No. 25 to 5 in Portland:
Blake, the Trail Blazers top reserve, felt a special connection with Kersey that none of us can imagine.
Blake, you see, wears the No. 25 that Kersey made so famous in Rip City.
"It was always an honor to wear that number, knowing what he meant to the organization and the fans here,'' Blake said.
Blake wanted to make sure No. 25 in Portland was preserved and honored. He wanted to change his number.
"To honor him,'' Blake said. "To honor his jersey.''
Blazers TV personality Mike Rice reached out upon hearing the news:
Dan Woike of the Orange County Register weighed in:
Statistically, Kersey peaked in the 1987-88 season when he averaged 19.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.6 steals per contest. Kersey maintained a similarly high level of play as a Trail Blazer and had a career-best 8.8 win shares in 1989-90.
After a largely successful 11 seasons in Portland, he bounced around to five other squads, managing to win an NBA championship with the San Antonio Spurs in 1999.
Kersey is revered by many for his legacy as a player. Based on the outpouring of support following his passing, his personality clearly left an impact on those associated with the NBA as well.
Note: Statistics courtesy of Basketball-Reference.