Before LeBron James was even conceived, Orlando Woolridge was lacing up on the NBA Hardwood with the type of body and frame that make LeBron’s rivals watch on in awe today. Tall, wide, and cut from the granite of the Gods. If there’s ever been a body in the league as appropriately comparable to James’ in the way that Woolridge’s was, you’ll be damn hard-pressed to find it.
But that’s selling Orlando short: He was as much about basketball as he was about the body he utilized to his advantage. In his most productive season (1985), he was good for 22.9 points per game and 5.6 rebounds per game at a rate of 55.4% from the field. Over 13 seasons, he played for 6 teams; Chicago, New Jersey, Los Angeles, Denver, Detroit, Milwaukee, and Philadephia. Totalling 13,623 points, Woolridge managed to average 16 points per game in just 28 minutes per contest. Unbeknownst to many newer fans of the game, Orlando Woolridge was responsible for the first NBA edition of the Eastbay dunk – which he performed in the Slam Dunk Competition in 1984 – at the NBA All-Star game hosted in Denver.
Woolridge passed away late Thursday at his parents’ home in Los Angeles. Reports confirm that Orlando was under medical care at the time for a chronic heart condition.
Pictures and video to follow in honor of an NBA Originator.
Rest easy, big fella.