Relive NBA History – Michael Jordan’s Flu Game

Photo Credit: Andy Hayt/NBAE/Getty Images

Relive NBA History – Michael Jordan’s Flu Game


I’ve seen the picture of Scottie Pippen holding up and supporting a completely echausted and drained Michael Jordan numerous times. Yet, the picture still gives me the chills every time I see it.

June 11, 1997 – NBA Finals – Chicago Bulls vs Utah Jazz – Game 5.

The Bulls had won the first two Final games, but the Jazz were able to come back, winning Games 3 and 4. So the series was tied before we got to see Michael Joran’s most memoarble game – The Flu Game.

In the night before the game, at 2 a.m, Michael Jordan called his personal trainer to his hotel room. He was laying on his bed, heavily sweating, and didn’t even have to strenght to sit up straigh. He was diagnosed with a stomach virus or food poisoning, caused by a pizza he ate the night before. Jordan’s former trainer Tim Grover said in a Chicago Sun interview from 2013:


“So we order a pizza, they come to deliver it, five guys come to deliver this pizza. And I’m just … I take the pizza, and I tell them, I said, ‘I got a bad feeling about this.’ I said, ‘I just got a bad feeling about this.’ Out of everybody in the room, he was the only one that ate. Nobody else … then 2 o’clock in the morning, I get a call to my room. I come to the room, he’s curled up, he’s curled up in the fetal position. We’re looking at him. We’re finding the team physician at that time. And immediately I said, ‘It’s food poisoning.’ Guaranteed. Not the flu”


The Chicago Bulls’ medical staff and coaches told Michael that there was no way he could play the game. Jordan got out of bed at 5:50 p.m, only about one hour before the 7 o’clock tip-off.

He made it to the game in time, and as he stepped on the court, NBA commentator Marv Albert said the following, now famous, words at the live broadcast:


“The big story here tonight — the story concerning Michael Jordan’s physical condition. This is Jordan arriving one hour ago. He is suffering from flulike symptoms.”


Jordan looked weak as he stepped on the court, and the Jazz were able to take advantage of the situation, taking a 16-point lead (36–20) in the second quarter. Then Jordan started to hit his shots, more and more often, scoring 17 points in the quarter, cutting the Jazz lead to four (53–49).

Jordan was incredibly exhausted in the third quarter and stayed on the bench. Utah, once again took advantage of the Jordan-less Bulls, streching the lead to 8 points (77–69). Then, the 4th quarter started. Jordan was back on the court, and his shots continued to fall. With 46 seconds left and Chicago down one point (85–84), Michael was fouled and went to the line, making the first, to tie the game. Jordan missed the second, but Toni Kukoc grabbed the offensive board, and passed it back to Jordan. Jordan then passed to Scottie Pippen, who passed the ball back to Jordan once he got double-teamed. Jordan drained a 3, giving the Bulls the lead (88–85)lead with 25 seconds remaining in the game.

Then, in the finals seconds of the game, and the game basically over, it was time for arguably the most iconic photo in NBA history – Michael Jordan collapsing into Scottie Pippen’s arms.


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