In the recent 10-part his documentary series “The Last Dance”, one of the more prominent individual storylines is the “flu game” that the all-time great shooting guard Michael Jordan stood out in against the Utah Jazz in the 1997 NBA Finals. That wound up being the fifth NBA Championship of the decade for the Chicago Bulls and the legendary Jordan.
According to a piece from USA Today this week, Jordan’s former personal trainer Tim Grover dove deeper into the story that was the flu game for MJ in 1997 against the Jazz. This is a really interesting look back from an inside perspective on what happened with Jordan during that famed Finals game in 1997 where he was clearly not well.
Tim Grover recounts the classic “flu game” in 1997 from Michael Jordan for the Chicago Bulls
Nonetheless, in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals Jordan delivered another classic performance. He posted 38 points, seven rebounds, five assists, three steals, and one block, in a whopping just over 44 minutes played to deliver the Bulls a two-point win over the Jazz. It would only take one more win for the Bulls to get the crown in 1997 over the Jazz.
Moreover, this performance for Jordan was one of the more shocking and historic of his career. His famed and legendary career involves a lot of moments that are truly historic, but few live up to the hype of the “flu game”.
Here are some of the key points from this piece from USA Today published this week with Grover talking on what caused the “flu game” for Jordan during the 1997 NBA Finals with the Bulls.
Rose claimed that Jordan was hungover. Grover’s claim, that Jordan suffered from food poisoning that night, had already been broached as a possibility in year’s past.
“Five guys came to deliver the pizza,” Grover said in the interview. “I take the pizza and I tell them: ‘I’ve got a bad feeling about this … I’ve just got a bad feeling about this.’ “
The pizza that Jordan ate was something that was covered in Part 9 of The Last Dance. There’s no confirmed story about what actually caused Jordan to feel the way he did in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals, but this pizza he ate clearly could’ve been the cause. It does seem like this is a matter still up for speculation, though.
Jalen Rose recounts that Jordan was just very hungover for that game, and this USA Today piece discussed that a bit.
No matter what happened, Jordan was still able to put up a classic NBA Finals performance that got the Bulls the win they needed to avoid going down 3-2 in that series with the Jazz. It sent the series back to Utah for Game 6, which eventually saw the Bulls get the four-point win to claim the title for the 1996-97 season.
The Last Dance is still a fun docuseries for Bulls fans reminiscing for the better days in Chicago during the 1990s with all of those great dynasty teams led by Jordan. The “flu game” in particular is always a good one to re-watch during the long offseason.