My memory isn’t the greatest, but I do remember growing up with Clyde Drexler, Terry Porter, Cliff Robinson, Buck (those goggles though) Williams, Kevin Duckworth, and Jerome “Mercy” Kersey. They were heroes in my household, and you couldn’t tell me or my younger brothers anything different. We watched the Portland Trail Blazers win & lose together (a lot – Jordan shrug game, anyone?), and I almost gave up on them a few times over the years (lifetime hoop fans like Mac Smitty know what I mean, lol). I’ve met a Blazer or two in my lifetime, but running into Jerome Kersey for just a few minutes told me quite a bit about the soft-spoken man everyone said was “such a nice guy.”
I ran into Kersey (a 6’ 7” guy is kinda hard to miss) in the hallways of the Moda Center Rose Garden a few months ago while volunteering there, joking with him about buying a raffle ticket to support a good cause. He smiled big & reached into his pocket, and said that he didn’t have any cash on him, and I thanked him anyway. I’m willing to bet that if he did, he would’ve bought one just because. Later that afternoon, I saw the Blazers’ team ambassador walking around the club level area, smiling, shaking hands, taking pictures & sharing stories with people I assume were pretty important, but complete strangers to him. Our city was really lucky to have him as a player, ambassador, and as a post-game analyst. Our community was lucky to have him as a person.
Jerome Kersey had a 17-year career in the NBA (including 11 years spent with Portland), and was a huge part of Rip City’s legacy. Fans know that he wasn’t always the best player on the court, but he definitely had an impact as a player, and still ranks among the top five all-time Blazers leaders in more than a few categories.
If you haven’t seen the reactions on social media yet, it still isn’t very hard to see what a man who has gone too soon at 52 years of age meant to the city of Portland, and across the National Basketball Association. We can only imagine what his family, friends & former teammates are going through right now. If you have a Jerome Kersey story, feel free to share it with us below.
RIP Jerome Kersey #25, 1962 – 2015.