PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Portland Trail Blazers honored beloved former player Jerome Kersey with an emotional 25 seconds of silence before their game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday night.
Kersey, who wore No. 25 during his 11-year tenure in Portland during the 1980s and ’90s, died Wednesday night at 52. The state medical examiner said a blood clot had traveled from his left calf to his left lung, causing a pulmonary thromboembolism.
For the national anthem, the Blazers showed a clip of Kersey performing a duet of the song before a game in 1989 on the video scoreboard. The crowd at the Moda Center responded with a standing ovation.
Outside the Moda Center, there was a growing memorial to Kersey surrounding a “Rip City” sculpture. Inside, the players wore T-shirts with emblazoned with “JK25” during warmups.
Guard Steve Blake switched his jersey number from 25 to 5 in honor of Kersey. The entire team will wear special patches on their jerseys for the rest of the season.
Kersey averaged 10.3 points and 5.5 rebounds in 17 NBA seasons with Portland, Golden State, the Los Angeles Lakers, Seattle, San Antonio and Milwaukee. He helped the Blazers reach the NBA Finals in 1990 and 1992, playing alongside Porter, Clyde Drexler, Kevin Duckworth and Buck Williams, and won a title with the Spurs in 1999.
Kersey, at 6-foot-7, had his best season in 1987-88, averaging 19.2 points and 8.3 rebounds. Kersey played in 1,153 regular-season games, averaging 1.9 assists and 1.2 steals.
The former Longwood University star ranks second on Portland’s career games list (831) and rebounds (5,078), third in minutes (21,400) and steals (1,059) and fifth in points (10,067).
Kersey retired in 2001. He was an assistant coach with Milwaukee in 2004-05 under Porter. In addition to serving as a team ambassador, he appeared on Blazers’ broadcasts for Comcast SportsNet Northwest.
Known for his broad smile and warm manner, Kersey appeared the day before his death with fellow former Blazer greats Terry Porter and Brian Grant at a community event at a Portland high school.
Kersey had minor knee surgery less than a week before his death, but it could not be immediately determined if the surgery caused the clot.