The NBA and its fans are mourning the sudden loss of basketball great Jerome Kersey. The 52-year-old Portland Trail Blazer legend passed away Wednesday after a blood clot moved from his leg into his lungs, causing a fatal pulmonary thromboembolism. The 17-year veteran played for six teams during his career, including an 11-year stint with the Blazers, and won a championship with the San Antonio Spurs in 1999. Kersey will forever be a fan-favorite, whether he was lighting up the court with a thrilling dunk or servicing the community up until the hours before his unfortunate death.
The Blazers and backup point guard Steve Blake came up with a way to honor Kersey’s legacy in Portland in a respectful and fitting fashion. With the league’s permission, Blake will change his jersey number 25, which was the number Kersey wore during his tenure in Rip City, to the number 5.
The 11-year veteran point guard explained his reasoning for the jersey change on Thursday:
“Jerome Kersey meant a lot to this team and to this city,” Blake said Thursday. “I’ve known Jerome for a long time now and wanted to honor him and his vast contributions both on and off the court. I consider it an honor to wear the number 25, but this just seemed like the right thing to do.”
The jersey change will go into effect on Friday night, as the Blazers play the Jazz in Utah. We express our deepest condolences to Kersey’s family, friends, and every fan of this wonderful man. The game of basketball was better for having Kersey as one of its players and ambassadors.