NBA

The Last Dance: Michael Jordan says 'flu game' was actually due to food poisoning

By Sports Desk May 18, 2020

Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan says food poisoning and not the flu was responsible for him being sick for Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz.

Episode nine of 'The Last Dance' - ESPN's 10-part docuseries on the Bulls team that won the 1997-98 NBA championship to complete a second three-peat in eight years - featured a section on what came to be known as the 'flu game'.

It has been widely believed Jordan had been suffering from flu-like symptoms ahead of the clash in Salt Lake City, but the five-time MVP has provided a different version of events.

"The day before Game 5 in Utah, I'm at the Marriott. It was George [Kohler, personal assistant], myself, Tim [Grover, personal trainer], and I think a couple of security guards. But it's like 10, 10:30 at night, I'm hungry," Jordan explained.

Grover and Koehler managed to find a pizza place that was open and placed an order but were surprised to see five people deliver it.

Jordan continued: "I eat the pizza all by myself, nobody else eats it. I wake up about 2:30, throwing up left and right.

"So really it wasn't the flu game, it was food poisoning."

He added: "I stayed in bed all day, couldn't eat anything, couldn't hold nothing down.

"Phil [Jackson, Bulls coach] comes in and says, 'What do you think?' And I say, 'Look, I'm gonna try, it's Game 5, if anything I can be a decoy.' So I'm going out and I'm gonna play."

Despite suffering from sickness, news of which emerged in the media before tip-off, Jordan scored 38 points to lead the Bulls to a 90-88 victory and a 3-2 series lead.

Jordan also had seven rebounds, five assists, three steals and one block in a display that remains one of the most iconic in the history of the league.

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