When Michael Jordan first came to the Chicago it was Bulls power forward Orlando Woolridge who has already established him as one of the premier dunkers in the League as well as one of the major rising stars. When they eventually joined forces they became the most dangerous high-flying duet in the Game.
A couple of seasons later Woolridge was ‘grounded’ from the ‘Chicago Air Force’ – Bulls GM Jerry Krause traded him to subpar New Jersey Nets. There, after only 19 games in his second season with Nets (1987-88), he would again be ‘grounded’ because of the problem with the drug abuse.
After he rehabilitated Woolridge received the call from the Lakers GM Jerry West. He soon found his niche in the sunny Los Angeles, providing steady veteran leadership as the backup power forward for the legitimate contender. This team would reach NBA finals in 1989 and become the Western Conference Champion in 1990.
During the same two-season period Sudanese-born 7’7′ center Manute Bol found a niche with the Golden State Warriors, playing a total of 155 games for Don Nelson’s improving squad, blocking as many as 583 shots in the two seasons combined.
The NBA’s leading shot-blocker for the 1988-89 season (total of 345; an average of 3.4 per game) soon became the major defensive catalyst for the Warriors high-octane offense, which featured the lefty All-Star forward Chris Mullin.
It’s no secret that ever since the introduction of the slam dunk as effective offensive tool best NBA dunkers always saw a tremendous opportunity to prove themselves, and get their team more than two points, by dunking over the leading shot-blocker in the League. Remember, for instance, Vince Carter’s nasty slam over Mt.Mutombo?
The same was with Woolridge and Bol. Woolridge saw an opening and bravely took his chance to dunk over Bol, a player he knew well from the Atlantic Division encounters between Nets and Bullets, during previous seasons.
Warriors, at the time, used trapping defense quite a lot, which resulted in a very thin defensive first line. This allowed Woolridge to accelerate from the three-point line, take the widest possible first step and leap over the outstretched arms of 7’7′ Bol, who had five swats that night in Forum! At first Lakers, #0 went for a thundering slam, and second time down the floor he settled down with a nice lay-up.
RELATED VIDEO LINK Orlando Woolridge Dunks on Manute Bol, Then Lays It Over Him Again (1989)
A couple of seasons later, in 1990-91, Woolridge would star for Denver Nuggets and become one of the leading NBA scorers with an average of 25.1 points per game. At the same time, Bol would bring his great shot-blocking ability to Philadelphia, starring in the limited role for the memorable 76ers squad led by his friend, Charles Barkley.
Unfortunately, both of these basketball greats have already left us – Bol died on June 19th, 2010, and Woolridge on May 31st, 2012.
Murray A. a.k.a. Marjan Crnogaj is BN contributor and the author of the book ‘Drazen – The Years of the Dragon’ which can be found here.