|This article needs additional citations for verification. (June 2012)|
Woolridge during his tenure coaching the Los Angeles Sparks
|No. 0, 6|
December 16, 1959|
|Died||May 31, 2012
|Listed height||6 ft 9 in (206 cm)|
|Listed weight||215 lb (98 kg)|
|High school||Mansfield (Mansfield, Louisiana)|
|College||Notre Dame (1977–1981)|
|NBA draft||1981 / Round: 1 / Pick: 6th overall|
|Selected by the Chicago Bulls|
|Pro playing career||1981–1996|
|1986–1988||New Jersey Nets|
|1988–1990||Los Angeles Lakers|
|1994–1995||Benetton Treviso (Italy)|
|1995–1996||Buckler Bologna (Italy)|
|1998–1999||Los Angeles Sparks (WNBA)|
|2007–2008||Houston Takers (ABA)|
|2008–2009||Arizona Rhinos (ABA)|
|Career NBA statistics|
|Points||13,623 (16.0 ppg)|
|Rebounds||3,696 (4.3 rpg)|
|Assists||1,609 (1.9 apg)|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
Orlando Vernada Woolridge (December 16, 1959 – May 31, 2012) was an American professional basketball player in the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 1981–1994. He was known for his scoring ability, especially on slam dunks.
Woolridge was born in Bernice, Louisiana, a town dependent on the lumber industry. After attending local schools, he went to the University of Notre Dame, where he played collegiate basketball. He played in the Final Four in 1978 as a freshman with teammate Bill Laimbeer (the two would later reunite as teammates of the Detroit Pistons during the 1990s).
Woolridge was selected sixth in the 1981 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls, where he played for his first five seasons. During the 1984–85 season, Woolridge averaged 22.9 points/game and combined with rookie teammate Michael Jordan to average over 51 points/game. At 6'9" 215 lbs, Woolridge was one of the most gifted dunkers in professional basketball.2 While unstoppable on the open court, his one-dimensional play did not complement Jordan's skills. He moved on to the New Jersey Nets for the 1986–87 season, in which he averaged 20.7 points/game. After playing 19 games during the 1987–88 season, Woolridge was suspended by the league for violation of the league substance abuse policy.
In 1988, he signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, who were looking for a scorer off the bench.3 "I just love it when we go up in the transition game, up and down the court, Magic (Johnson) looking for the open guy ... That's the way I love playing," said Woolridge about teammate Magic Johnson and the Lakers shortly after joining the team.2 Woolridge averaged 11 points per game in two seasons and provided the Lakers consistent bench scoring around the basket. His 55.6% field goal percentage during the 1989–90 season ranked fifth in the league.4
Woolridge was traded for two second-round draft picks to the Denver Nuggets, which started playing an unusual hurry-up offense under head coach Paul Westhead in 1990–91. The prolific offense resulted in Woolridge's averaging 25.1 points/game and a career high 6.8 rebounds/game, but did not result in many team wins. Through most of the season until December, Woolridge led the NBA in scoring. That month, he was sidelined after eye surgery due to a detached retina during a game collision. He was third in the league averaging 29.0 points at the time.5
After his only season in Denver, Woolridge played with the Detroit Pistons the entire 1991–1992 season. He split the 1992–1993 season between Detroit and the Milwaukee Bucks, and finished his NBA career with the Philadelphia 76ers (1993–1994). He held NBA career averages of 16.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game.
Woolridge's son, Renaldo, studies at the University of Southern California and plays for the Trojans basketball team while working to complete his masters degree.6 Before attending USC, Woolridge attended the University of Tennessee for four years, earning his undergraduate degree while playing for the Volunteers basketball team.
- "Former Notre Dame Basketball Player Orlando Woolridge Dies At Age 52". Notre Dame Athletics. CBS Interactive. 1 June 2012. Retrieved 2 June 2012.
- "Ex-NBA player Orlando Woolridge dead at 52". USA Today. Associated Press. June 1, 2012. Archived from the original on June 1, 2012.
- Edes, Gordon (August 10, 1988). "Lakers to Announce Signing Today of Free Agent Orlando Woolridge". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on June 1, 2012.
- Medina, Mark (June 1, 2012). "Former Laker Orlando Woolridge dies". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on June 1, 2012.
- "Nuggets' Woolridge Has Surgery for Detached Retina in Right Eye". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. December 22, 1990. Archived from the original on June 1, 2012.
- "Renaldo Woolridge signs with USC".
- Baker, Chris (1 March 1988). "Clippers to Play Willis Reed's Nets in New Jersey". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
- "Former NBA player dies in parents' Mansfield home". Shreveport Times. 1 June 2012. Retrieved 1 June 2012.