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Adelman on Kersey: 'He always came in and worked his tail off'

A public celebration of life for beloved Portland Trail Blazer Jerome Kersey was held Monday, March 2.
Jerome Kersey

PORTLAND, Ore. – A public celebration of life for beloved Portland Trail Blazer Jerome Kersey was held Monday, March 2.

The Trail Blazers and Kersey family invited the community to celebrate Jerome's life along with his friends, teammates and colleagues. The event took place at Veterans Memorial Coliseum, the arena where Kersey played for the Trail Blazers.

Kersey died from a blood clot February 18 at the age of 52.

Former Trail Blazers coach Rick Adelman remembered Jerome Kersey as a gifted athlete who made himself a solid NBA player through hard work.

"He had the athletic skills; he could run, he could jump, and he was strong. Every camp he came to - I told him one time, 'Are you trying to be a linebacker or are you trying to be a basketball player?' He always came in and worked his tail off," Adelman said.

Adelman was among those who attended a public service Monday for Kersey at the Memorial Coliseum. Ex-teammate Terry Porter, current Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts and Kersey's widow, Teri, also were on hand.

"He just went out and attacked life. I think that's just how Jerome went out and did things," Adelman said. "I think that's what made him so successful. And that's what I'm really going to miss the most."

Kersey helped lead the Trail Blazers to the NBA Finals twice during an 11-year career in Portland. He played 17 seasons in the NBA and won an NBA Championship with the San Antonio Spurs in 1999.

Kersey moved back to Portland and was an original member of the Trail Blazers Alumni Ambassador program in 2007, the team said.

Kersey played 11 seasons in Portland during the 1980s and '90s. Adelman was his coach for several of those seasons, including two trips to NBA Finals with a starting lineup that included Kersey, Porter, Clyde Drexler, Buck Williams and Kevin Duckworth.

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. In addition to his NBA Finals appearances with Portland, he 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. He played in 1,153 regular-season games, averaging 1.9 assists and 1.2 steals.

The former Longwood University star ranks second in Portland history in games (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 also appeared on Blazers broadcasts.

Known for his broad smile and warm manner, Kersey appeared the day before his death with Porter and fellow former Blazer 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 that traveled to his lung.