He has been found. The man who made and delivered the pizza that Tim Grover insinuated gave Michael Jordan food poisoning the night before Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals.
His name is Greg Kite, and he spent his Tuesday morning on "The Big Show" with Jake Scott and Gordon Monson on 1280 The Zone telling his side of this story.
Kite, an assistant manager at a Park City, Utah Pizza Hut and self-professed Bulls fan at the time, repeatedly called Grover's version of events "crap," emphasizing the care he put into making the pizza, knowing it was possibly going to be delivered to a member of the team.
"It was towards the evening that we got a call," Kite said on the show. "Everybody up in Park City was aware of where the Bulls were, they’d already been up there for three or four days. So when you’re working in the restaurant business up there, obviously you know what’s going on."
Kite did not yet know the pizza was to be delivered to Michael Jordan. Still, he recalled taking great caution in preparing it — a privilege that he intentionally took on as the only Bulls supporter working at the restaurant.
"I remember saying, 'I will make the pizza because I don’t want any of you doing anything to it,'" Kite said. "In fact, I kinda geeked out a little bit, watching it and making sure it didn’t puff up, it was a good pizza.
"That pizza was made well. I followed all the rules. Heck, at the time, I was so busy trying to impress to become the store manager there, I followed all the rules.
"It was kind of a running joke because I said, 'Hey, let me wash my hands, I'm gonna make this pizza,' because I wasn’t on the table. So then for months after that, while I was working there, still everyone was like, 'Well, whatever you do don’t wash your hands you’ll get someone sick.' So it was kind of a running gag."
Eventually, Kite and a delivery driver (Kite stressed he and the driver were the only two people to make the trip), headed off to the hotel to deliver the pie. At the entrance, heavy security greeted them, but Kite said they were allowed through on the basis of their Pizza Hut uniforms and identification.
"As soon as you walk into the room, or into the building, you could already smell the cigar smoke," Kite said.
That smell persisted through their elevator ride up to Jordan's floor, where a number of Bulls players were staying. Kite learned that he was on his way to Jordan's room after being asked by a Bulls player (whose name he couldn't recall) where he was going. Upon learning the room number, the player told Kite and the driver that it was Jordan's room and walked on.
Then, the encounter with Grover, which Grover remembers as being approached by five suspicious-seeming delivery people. According to him, he could sense something off from the moment they knocked on the door.
Here is Kite's version of events, which he said took place "towards 10 o clock, 10:30 (p.m.)":
"We go over and I knock on the door, and then this great guy who’s been saying all this crap lately — I’m sure he’s a good guy — but anyway, he answers the door. Barely opens the door, and he looks out and says, 'Hey.' I identified the company I was with and 'Here’s the pizza delivery.' And he goes, 'OK, hold on.' And then he shuts the door. And then he goes ahead and from there he obviously got some money...
"He kinda opens the door a little bit more, and I can hear some commotion going on in there. And he hands me the 20 (dollar bill), made a gesture to me — obviously keep the change or whatever — and I’m handing him the pizza, and I said, 'Hey can I at least say hi to Mike. Why not, it’s my one shot, right? And the door kinda opens up a little bit more. Mike’s in the room, sitting at the chair playing cards or whatever, and he raises his hand and says, 'Thanks, man.' And the guy looks at me and shuts the door. And that’s the extent of the whole story."
From there, Kite said he returned to the Pizza Hut to great celebration. He didn't realize anything was awry until turning on Game 5 on his television the next night (as a Bulls fan living in Utah, he took the night off from work to watch the game) and seeing Jordan debilitated.
Still, he is certain the pizza he delivered could not have been the cause of Jordan's illness. In a small town, Kite said, when one restaurant got tagged with the food poisoner label, word would usually get around. But, at the time, his district manager allegedly reported no additional cases of sickness derived from Pizza Hut food.
"It’s a thin-crust pepperoni pizza. It’s tough to get food poisoning off a pizza," Kite said. "Unless of course obviously you add something to it, but that didn’t happen because it sure as heck didn’t leave my hands."
Indeed, Kite insisted he watched over the pizza from preparation to delivery to arrival. He also added he is certain it was Jordan who waved to him upon the delivery, pretty much dispelling any rumors of Jordan gallivanting to Las Vegas or other party havens the night before the game.
At the end of the day, this is only Kite's version of events. It's a he said, he said bout between him and Grover. But the detail he divulged — he said the Pizza Hut, while no longer standing, was situated next to a Park City high school and across the street from a 7/11; he also said his son is named after Michael Jordan — lend some credence to his story.
"I’d love for it to be super exciting to have some great thing. But sorry we weren’t some five creepy looking guys that they guy felt threatened by," Kite said. "It really wasn’t all that exciting."Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.