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

  • The illness Michael Jordan played through in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals was food poisoning and not flu, as is commonly believed.
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Modified 18 May 2020, 17:02 IST
MichaelJordan - cropped
Michael Jordan during Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz

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."

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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.

Published 18 May 2020, 17:02 IST
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