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Michael Jordan: I had food poisoning for ‘flu’ game

Bulls star Michael Jordan

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - JUNE 11: Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls rests during Game Five of the 1997 NBA Finals played against the Utah Jazz on June 11, 1997 at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Chicago Bulls defeated the Utah Jazz 90-88. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1997 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

Michael Jordan – in what became known as the “flu game” – had a legendary performance in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals. He scored 38 points, including 15 in the fourth quarter, to lead the Bulls to a 90-88 win over the Jazz. A visibly sick Jordan played 44 minutes!

The story had only one problem: Jordan probably didn’t have the flu.

Jordan’s long-time trainer, Tim Grover, said Jordan got food poisoning from a pizza delivered by five people. In ESPN’s “The Last Dance” documentary, Jordan confirmed the pizza made him sick .


It’s 10, 10:30 at night. I’m hungry.
I ate the pizza. All by myself. Nobody else eats the pizza. I wake up about 2:30, throwing up left and right.
So, it really wasn’t the flu game. It was food poisoning.

The flu and food poisoning can have similar symptoms. Either way, Jordan played incredibly well through illness. Neither source affects the tremendous basketball accomplishment.

As far as the five deliverers, it seems plausible they got word the pizza was for Jordan’s room and all wanted to catch a glimpse of the superstar. Even if the pizza were tainted, I wouldn’t assume it was done deliberately.