Although Orlando Woolridge's (6'9''-F-59) life came to a premature end just before midnight Thursday, it's tough to say the former basketball sensation was cheated.
The Bernice native, 52, who died at his parents' Mansfield home where he'd been under hospice care for a chronic heart condition, was a superstar at Mansfield High, graduated from the University of Notre Dame, played with both Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan during his 13 seasons in the NBA and earned induction into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame two years ago.
The sharp-shooting 6-foot-9, 215-pounder was a first-round selection (sixth overall) of the Chicago Bulls in 1981.
'He was a complete player,' Digger Phelps, Woolridge's coach with the Fighting Irish, told The Times.
Phelps took the somber news that spread quickly Friday particularly hard.
'You go in a home to recruit and there was one thing I always promised the parents: 'Your son is going to graduate from Notre Dame. As far as the NBA, he's going to have to earn it.'
'In 20 years of coaching, I had 56 guys play for me and 56 guys got their degrees - about 20 went on to play in the NBA. He's the first guy I've lost. At 52, to have him die, it's like losing a son. It's hit me hard.'
Woolridge is survived by his children, Zachary, Renaldo and Tiana; parents, Mattie and Larnceen; sister, Dr. Vanessa Woolridge Duplessis; brother-in-law, Darren Duplessis; and nephew, Nigel Duplessis.
In addition to his successes, Woolridge battled personal demons throughout his life. He was suspended for the 1987-88 season by the NBA for substance abuse and was arrested in February on a charge of theft of more than $1,500 for allegedly stealing aluminum lines used to transfer water to natural gas drilling sites.
A cousin to NBA legend and fellow Bernice native Willis Reed, Woolridge scored 3,036 points (22.0 per game) and grabbed 1,945 rebounds (14 per game) in his prep career, including averages of 21 points and 25 rebounds as a senior at Mansfield he played his first three seasons at nearby All Saints High School.
Woolridge enrolled at Notre Dame in 1977, and by the time he was a senior, was a captain for the Fighting Irish.
A key figure during the NBA's slam-dunk era, Woolridge averaged 22.9 points per game during Jordan's rookie season (1984-85). The duo averaged more than 51 points for the Bulls that year.
Balanced Hawks hold off Wizards 111-101, even series 2-all - 3 hours ago
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In a year when the geezers are coming up big in the NBA playoffs, add another one to the list. Jose Manuel Calderon (6'3''-PG-81) might be the most unlikely of all. The 35-year-old Spaniard, picked up on waivers late in the season, made a huge contribution to help the Atlanta Hawks pull away from the Washington Wizards 111-101 on Monday night, evening the opening-round series at 2-all. Answering the call when Dennis Schroeder (5'11''-PG-93, agency: Octagon Europe) got in early foul troubl... [read more]
In a year when the geezers are coming up big in the NBA playoffs, add another one to the list. Jose Manuel Calderon (6'3''-PG-81) might be the most unlikely of all. The 35-year-old Spaniard, picked up on waivers late in the season, made a huge contribution to help the Atlanta Hawks pull away from the Washington Wizards 111-101 on Monday night, evening the opening-round series at 2-all. Answering the call when Dennis Schroeder (5'11''-PG-93, agency: Octagon Europe) got in early foul trouble, Calderon played 20 minutes, scored 10 points and dished out five assists. He joined some old-timers such as Utah's Joe Johnson and Houston's Nene making significant contributions in the postseason. Afterward, Calderon sat alongside Dwight Howard (6'11''-C-85) at the postgame news conference, a sign of the major role they both played. That's to be expected from Howard, an eight-time All-Star who finally showed up in the series. Not so much from Calderon, whose hair is thinning on top. "I always think I'm going to be on the podium," he quipped, actually managing to hold back a smile for a second or two. "Just stay ready." Howard had his best game of the postseason, putting up a double-double by halftime and finishing with 16 points and 15 rebounds. Paul Millsap (6'8''-F-85, college: Louisiana Tech) bounced back from a sluggish start to score 19 points. And Schroder, after going scoreless in a first half spent largely on the bench, managed to put up 18 points. The Hawks had seven players in double figures, also getting a huge contribution off the bench from Kent Bazemore (6'5''-G/F-89, college: ODU), who had 16 points and doled out seven assists. But Calderon was the one who really made a difference. The Hawks outscored the Wizards by 29 points when he was on the court. "He came in, played well, took care of the game," Washington coach Scott Brooks said. "He's just a winner. He makes winning basketball plays for whatever team he's been on." Bradley Beal (6'5''-SG-93, college: Florida) scored 32 points for Washington, bouncing back from a dismal performance in Game 3, and John Wall had another stellar performance with 22 points and 10 assists. Those two, as good as they were, couldn't match a more balanced approach by the Hawks. Now, a series marked by ill feelings that went so far as Markieff Morris calling Millsap "a crybaby" is down to a best-of-three. Game 5 is Wednesday night in Washington. "We've got home court for a reason," Wall said. "It's an opportunity for us to go home, take care of what we need to do and come back here on Friday." Millsap and Schroder helped the Hawks pull away down the stretch. After snatching an offensive rebound, Millsap managed to get the shot off while being knocked on his backside, the ball dropped in, and he added the free throw for a 3-point play . Schroder followed with a 3-pointer, giving the Hawks a 103-93 lead with 4? minutes to go. Of course, it helped that Howard finally made an appearance in the series . Having taken only 15 shots and scored 18 points in the first three games, he carried the load with Millsap struggling in the first half and Schroder watching from the bench. The enigmatic center had thunderous dunks on back-to-back possessions that really got the home crowd into the game. Courtesy of: abcnews.com
Warriors move on with a sweep of the Trail Blazers - 4 hours ago
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Long after the Trail Blazers had left their court, many of Golden State's players celebrated on the floor at the Moda Center to the delight of a rather large contingent of yellow-clad fans who chanted "War-ri-ors! War-ri-ors!" The first-round sweep was sweet, even in Portland's house. Stephen Curry (6'3''-PG-88, college: Davidson) scored 37 points and Golden State beat the Blazers 128-103 on Monday night to advance to the conference semifinals. The Warriors will face the winner of the ser... [read more]
Long after the Trail Blazers had left their court, many of Golden State's players celebrated on the floor at the Moda Center to the delight of a rather large contingent of yellow-clad fans who chanted "War-ri-ors! War-ri-ors!" The first-round sweep was sweet, even in Portland's house. Stephen Curry (6'3''-PG-88, college: Davidson) scored 37 points and Golden State beat the Blazers 128-103 on Monday night to advance to the conference semifinals. The Warriors will face the winner of the series between the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Clippers, which is tied at 2. Golden State was energized despite playing for the second straight game without coach Steve Kerr, who has been experiencing a flare-up of symptoms stemming from back surgery a couple of years ago. Assistant Mike Brown has served as head coach in Kerr's absence. But the Warriors saw the return of forward Kevin Durant (6'9''-SF-88, college: Texas), who hadn't played since Game 1 because of a strained left calf. He started and the Warriors built a 72-48 lead by the end of the opening half. Golden State pushed the margin to 33 points in the second half. Curry swished a 31-foot 3-pointer that made it 104-77 late in the third quarter and the Blazers couldn't catch up. Durant finished with 10 points in just under 21 minutes. All of Golden State's starters were in double figures. "That was unbelievable. Our guys were locked in on both ends of the floor. I wish I could say this one thing or that one thing was really good but everything we tried to do, we tried to do it on a high level," Brown said. "It was fun to watch. Fun to be a part of." Damian Lillard (6'3''-PG-90, college: Weber St.) scored 34 points for the Blazers, who were making their fourth straight appearance in the playoffs. The crowd at the Moda Center gave Lillard a standing ovation when he came out with 6:12 to play. Last season, the Warriors defeated the Blazers 4-1 in the second round. Curry missed the first three games of that series with a sprained MCL in his right knee, but returned in time to take the series back to Golden State and advance. The Warriors, who won the NBA title in 2015, fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers in seven games in the Finals last year. The Warriors were still without Matt Barnes (right ankle/foot sprain), and Shaun Livingston (right index finger sprain). Livingston hasn't played since Game 1 and Barnes has been sidelined the whole series. The Blazers led Game 3 by as many as 17 points in the first half - sparked by the return of big man Jusuf Nurkic. But the lead slipped away in the third quarter and the deeper Warriors prevailed 119-113. Nurkic, who had missed the final seven games of the regular season and the first two playoff games because of a nondisplaced fracture in his right leg, finished with two points and 11 rebounds. He was ruled out of Monday's game. The Warriors jumped out to a 14-0 lead at the start. Durant's dunk extended the lead to 22-3 and the rout was on. Javale McGee (7'0''-C-88, college: Nevada) made a highlight-reel alley-oop dunk in route to a 45-22 lead after the opening quarter. "We knew if we threw the first punch, we knew that it would overwhelm them a bit, especially being up 3-0," Durant said. It was the most points ever in a quarter for Golden State in a playoff game, and matched the NBA record for most first-quarter points in a playoff game. Lillard shouldered most of the burden for the Blazers with 21 points in the half, but backcourt partner C.J. McCollum (6'4''-G-91, college: Lehigh) was scoreless on 0-for-7 shooting and Portland trailed 72-48 at the break. "They came out really energized, focused. They showed their championship pedigree," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. "We were slow to react to it and we just couldn't get it going. And we didn't play nearly as well as they needed to and they showed why they're a championship team." The Warriors showed no signs of slowing in the third. Curry's 3-pointer pushed Golden State's lead to 91-58. "We're very confident about who we are and how were going to be successful," Curry said. Courtesy of: usatoday.com
Raptors take series lead with 118-93 victory over Bucks - 4 hours ago
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The Toronto Raptors are within one win of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Norman Powell scored 25 points, his career high in the post-season, to lead the Raptors to a thrilling 118-93 victory over the Bucks on Monday, sending the Raptors back to Milwaukee with a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven series. Six Raptors scored in double figures. Serge Ibaka (6'10''-C/F-89) finished with 19 points, DeMar DeRozan (6'7''-F/G-89, college: USC) added 18, and Kyle Lowry (6'0''-PG-86, college: Villa... [read more]
The Toronto Raptors are within one win of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Norman Powell scored 25 points, his career high in the post-season, to lead the Raptors to a thrilling 118-93 victory over the Bucks on Monday, sending the Raptors back to Milwaukee with a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven series. Six Raptors scored in double figures. Serge Ibaka (6'10''-C/F-89) finished with 19 points, DeMar DeRozan (6'7''-F/G-89, college: USC) added 18, and Kyle Lowry (6'0''-PG-86, college: Villanova) battled through a sore back to finish with 16 points and 10 assists. The team's medical staff had worked on Lowry's back before the morning shootaround, then sent him home to rest. It clearly bothered him during the game - when he wasn't on the court, he was lying on his back in front of the bench. DeMarre Carroll chipped in with 12 points, while Cory Joseph (6'3''-PG-91, college: Texas)h had 10. Giannis Antetokounmpo (6'11''-G/F-94, agency: Octagon Europe) led the Bucks with 30 points and nine rebounds. A victory in Thursday's Game 6 in Milwaukee would send the Raptors to the Eastern Conference semis against familiar foe Cleveland. The Cavaliers, who ousted Toronto in the conference final last season, swept their series against Indiana. The victory was Toronto's most decisive of these playoffs. The Bucks never led by more than two points while the Raptors - humming on offence and decent on defence - built a 19-point first-half lead and roared into the fourth quarter with a 90-73 advantage. The Bucks would come no closer than 14 points in a fourth quarter that belonged to Toronto, and with 4:42 to play, Powell muscled around Antetokounmpo and over Thon Maker (7'1''-C/F-97, college: High School) for an empathic dunk, the punctuation mark on a dominant night for Toronto. When Raptors coach Dwane Casey emptied his bench in the final two minutes, the Air Canada Centre crowd broke into a chant of 'Raps in six!' The Raptors shot a sizzling 58 per cent on the night, and 44 per cent from three-point range. Two nights after it worked so well in Milwaukee, Casey started Powell over Jonas Valanciunas (7'0''-C-92), and the athletic Powell made his presence known from the outset. Early in the first quarter, he stole the ball off Antetokounmpo, was wrapped up by Malcolm Brogdon (6'5''-G-92, college: Virginia) but managed to get the shot off for a three-point play. His three-pointer capped a 17-0 run that gave the Raptors a 15-point lead. Toronto took a 31-20 advantage into the second quarter. Bucks coach Jason Kidd had talked pre-game about the threat that Powell posed. 'He's not just a guy who can play defence but he can also put the ball in the basket,' Kidd said. 'So we've got to make sure we're aware of where he's at on the floor. But I thought he was positive when he was on the floor for them.' A jump shot from Patrick Patterson put Toronto up by 19 points midway through the second, but the Bucks - shooting 67 per cent in the quarter - clawed their way to within seven. The Raptors went into the halftime break with a 57-48 lead. Powell drilled a three - and glared at the Bucks bench - four minutes into the third quarter that gave the Raptors a 15-point lead. The game got heated in the third when Greg Monroe took offence after he flew over Valanciunas's hip. Monroe tried to get at Valanciunas at the other end. The scuffle, which saw two slapped with technical fouls, had Valanciunas flexing his biceps and fired up the ACC crowd. The Raptors and Bucks split the first two games in Toronto, then split their two games in Milwaukee. A Game 7, if necessary, would be back in Toronto on Saturday. Courtesy of: citynews.ca
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