Portland Trail Blazers legend Jerome Kersey passes away

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Sad news out of the Portland area, long-time Trail Blazer and fan favorite Jerome Kersey has died. He was just 52.

The news was first reported by Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports but since then it has been confirmed by a Trail Blazers representative. At this time we do not know the cause.

Kersey was a second-round pick out of Div. II Longwood College, a guy who was a longshot to ever make the roster but not only did he outwork everyone to get his chance, he exploded into the consciousness of NBA fans when he came in second to Michael Jordan during the 1987 dunk contest.

Kersey spent 11 years with the Blazers and was more than a dunker; he was a starter on some of the best Blazers teams, ones that made two Finals runs during the Clyde Drexler/Terry Porter era. He was a physically strong, explosive player who averaged 17 points a game as a Blazer. But he’s better remembered as the guy who did the little things, who provided the grit, and made the hustle plays that were key to those Portland teams. Those are the kind of things that made him a fan favorite in Portland, his loyalty to the area kept him as one of the favorites.

Eventually, he was unprotected in the expansion draft, and that led to him playing with the Raptors. After that he bounced around the NBA but in his travels picked up a championship ring playing with the San Antonio Spurs in 1998-99.

After his playing days he remained active in the Portland community. Just one day before he passed Kersey, along with Terry Porter and Brian Grant, were speaking at a school in the Portland area about Black History Month.