What people fail to comprehend about true Laker fans is that while we’ve been spoiled watching the Magic Johnsons, Kobe Bryants and Kareem Abdul-Jabbars of the hoops world we’re generally a group that largely has fan favorites. For some its guys like Kurt Rambis or Ronny Turiaf. For others it might be Shannon Brown or Eddie Jones. For me, as a child of the 80s, it was Orlando Woolridge who I most enjoyed watching. So you’ll understand if I get on my soapbox for a few moments here and wax poetic about Woolridge in lieu of the announcement of his passing at the age of 52.
Woolridge was under hospice care for a heart condition at his parents’ home is his native Louisiana when he passed. About the only positive one can find in the tragedy is that he’s no longer suffering.
While he might not be remembered as an all-time great, anybody who watched Woolridge play surely remembers him.
I can’t tell you how exciting it was to be at the Forum watching Magic run the break with Woolridge on the wing. I’d hold my breath in anticipation of the inevitable no-look dime to #0 who would proceed to throw down a nasty dunk then jog back up court to cheers while the iconic voice of Lawrence Tanter belted out “Woooolllridge!”
Yeah, I had posters of Magic, Cap, Byron Scott and Big Game James all over my wall. But the guy I couldn’t get enough of was Woolridge.
His game was somewhere between Xavier McDaniel and Dominique Wilkins for those that remember the X-Man. Though he only played two seasons as a Laker, almost exclusively as a reserve and winning no titles, his flair left a lasting impression on me. I’m sure his exploits did the same on his children.
Woolridge is survived by two sons both of whom play D1 ball. Renaldo, who currently plays for the Tennessee Volunteers, was born in Los Angeles and attended Harvard-Westlake High. Royce transferred to Washington State from Kansas and will be eligible to play this fall.
My thoughts are with the family. My memories are forever frozen in time as Woolridge was a big part of my childhood and one of the many reasons why I fell in love with the game and the Lake Show.
Rest in peace.