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Orlando Vernada Woolridge (born December 16, 1959 in Bernice, Louisiana) is a former professional basketball player in the NBA.

Contents

Early years

Woolridge played collegiate basketball at the University of Notre Dame. He played in the Final Four in 1978 as a freshman with teammate Bill Laimbeer. The two would reunite as teammates of the Detroit Pistons during the 1990s. Woolridge helped guide the team to NCAA appearances in 1980 and 1981. As a senior in 1981, Woolridge made a last-second fall-away jumper to end #1 Virginia's 28-game winning streak and also earned second team All-American status.

Professional career

He 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" 215lbs, Woolridge's exceptionally strong legs and lean body made him one of the most gifted dunkers in professional basketball. While unstoppable on the open court, his one-dimensional play did not complement Jordan's skills. Therefore, 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.

With his career in jeopardy, he managed to turn his life around signed on as a role player with the Los Angeles Lakers for the 1988-89 and 1989-90 seasons. Under coach Pat Riley, the Lakers efficiently used Woolridge's skills to provide an offensive spark off the bench. His athletic abilities better complemented the passing skills of Magic Johnson rather than Michael Jordan. His 55.6% field goal percentage during the 1989-90 season was 5th in the league.

Afterward, he was traded to the Denver Nuggets which played an unusual novelty hurry-up offense under head coach Paul Westhead (1990-91). The prolific offense resulted in Woolridge averaging 25.1 points/game and a career high in rebounds, but did not result in many wins. For a substantial period of the year, Woolridge led the NBA in scoring but missed almost half of the season due to an eye injury. After his only season in Denver, he played with the Detroit Pistons (1992-1993), the Milwaukee Bucks (1993), and the Philadelphia 76ers (1993-1994). He holds career averages of 16.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game.He had a brief stint with the Washington Bullets for 1 year.

Europe

He played professionally in Italy for Benetton Treviso (1994-95, won the European Cup and Italian Cup under Mike D'Antoni) and Buckler Bologna (1995-96) (won Italian Supercup).

After retiring, Woolridge coached the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA in 1998 and 1999.

Woolridge currently coaches the Arizona Rhinos of the ABA.

External links

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