HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS — Former Chicago Bulls star and 13-year NBA veteran Orlando Wooldridge died at his parents’ Louisiana home Thursday night, according to the Shreveport Times, the second blow to the league’s retired ranks this week.
Former NBA All-Star and broadcaster Jack Twyman died Wednesday.
Woolridge, 52, was reportedly under hospice care for a heart condition. A college star at Notre Dame and the sixth pick in the 1981 NBA Draft, Woolridge played six seasons for the Bulls, including averaging 22.9 points per game during Michael Jordan‘s rookie season.
He was a fan favorite in Chicago and beyond for his above-the-rim work, vicious dunks were one of his specialties. Suspended in 1987 for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy, Woolridge finished with career averages of 16 points and 4.3 rebounds, playing for the Lakers, Nuggets, Pistons, Bucks and Sixers. He also spent time overseas and coached in the WNBA and the ABA after his playing career ended.
A 6-foot-9, 215-pound physical specimen with elite athleticism, Woolridge actually experienced some of his best years in the league as a role player with the Lakers under Pat Riley and on the receiving end of some of Magic Johnson‘s passes.
That’s actually where I remember him best, though I remember him well from his days with the Bulls. He just seemed like a perfect fit with those Showtime Lakers, who never met an athletic finisher they didn’t like.
We dug through the archives for a glimpse of Woolridge in his prime (above), just in case you didn’t have the pleasure of watching him while he played.