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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Ex-NBA forward Woolridge dead at 52

AP

NEW YORK — Orlando Woolridge, the chiseled forward who carved out a reputation over 13 NBA seasons as a scoring specialist and one of the original alley-oop artists, died late Thursday at his parents' home in Mansfield, La. He was 52.

DeSoto Parish Chief Deputy Coroner Billy Locke said Woolridge died while under hospice care for a chronic heart condition.

The 206-cm Woolridge was the sixth overall pick by the Chicago Bulls in 1981 after starring at Notre Dame in college and Mansfield High School in Louisiana.

Known for his high-flying dunks and ability to throw down lob passes in the open court, Woolridge played for the Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Denver, Milwaukee and Detroit, and also coached the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA. He averaged 16.0 points in just over 28 minutes per game, quickly emerging as an offensive spark plug no matter if he was in the starting lineup or coming off the bench.

"I just love it when we go up in the transition game, up and down the court, Magic (Johnson) looking for the open guy," Woolridge told Lakers broadcaster Chick Hearn shortly after joining the team in 1988. "I get excited when we start playing like that. That's the way I love playing."

He participated in one of the greatest slam dunk contests of all time in 1985, competing against Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins and Julius Erving, among others, and he averaged 22.9 points per game for the Bulls in 1984-85, the last player to lead Chicago in scoring before Jordan took over.

Woolridge was suspended for violating the league's substance abuse policy in 1987, but returned to play eight more seasons in the league, his last with the Sixers in 1993-94. A scorer to the end, he averaged 12.7 points per game in 26 minutes during his final season.



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