CHICAGO — In the NBA, they say you can judge a man’s character by how he treats the support staff.
And to Barry Baum — a Knicks ballboy in the 1980s — there was no better man than Louis Orr.
“As soon as I started as a ballboy, he made me feel so welcome,” Baum recalled Friday. “He would always call me B as a nickname, he would always ask how I was doing. He would give me a high-5 every day that I saw him. Thanked me for my help — whether it was rebounding for him or getting him water during the game.
“He was just the nicest person you could imagine. And it’s such a loss for his family and friends and basketball in general. What a great person he was.”
Orr died Thursday after a battle with pancreatic cancer at age 64, his family announced. He’s survived by his wife of 30 years, Yvette, and their two children and grandchildren.
Perhaps best known for his superb career at Syracuse, Orr also played eight seasons in the NBA and coached several Division I programs, including Seton Hall.
His six seasons with the Knicks bridged the Bernard King and Patrick Ewing eras. He was mostly a backup but averaged over 30 minutes during two lean years of the mid-’80s under Hubie Brown, when Orr averaged a career-high 12.7 points in 1984-85.
His time with Ewing in New York blossomed into a long relationship, with Orr serving as an assistant coach at Georgetown until his death.
“I’ve lost a great friend. Someone who has been in my life since I was 22 years old,” Ewing, the Georgetown head coach, tweeted. “We developed a friendship and a brotherhood. He was always someone I could talk to — we would talk about life, we would talk about basketball, we would talk about family.
“Louis Orr will truly be missed and he will forever be a part of this Hoya program.”
Baum recalled how Orr, when playing for the Knicks, once drove to a Manhattan TV studio for a guest appearance on a show Baum hosted as a high school student. Orr left such an impression that their picture together hangs in Baum’s office in Milwaukee, where the Brooklyn product works as the Chief Communications Officer of the Bucks.
“Just the best,” Baum said of Orr.
At Syracuse, Orr was part of Jim Boeheim’s first recruiting class in 1976. He paired with Roosevelt Bouie to form the “Louie and Bouie Show’’ on some of the most successful teams in Syracuse history, with the Orangemen going 100-18 in his four years. Syracuse retired his No. 55 in 2015.
“It’s a real hard one,” Boeheim said Friday. “It’s really difficult. He was really one of the best of all us.”
Orr was a second-round pick of the Pacers in 1980. He was the head coach at Siena, Seton Hall and Bowling Green, and an assistant at Xavier, Providence, Syracuse and Georgetown.
“On 12/15/2022, Louis Orr was called home to be with the Lord as his battle with cancer has come to an end,” his family said in a statement. “He was a dearly loved and devoted husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend. He will forever be missed!”