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Everything you thought you knew – but didn’t – about Jordan’s ‘Flu Game’


Michael Jordan is arguably the greatest basketball star of all time. Jordan was rarely seen as an underdog but one game in 1997 he was seemingly down and out until he summoned the spirit to tie up his laces once again. The game became known as Jordan’s Flu Game, and this is everything you need to know about the momentous game.

The flu

Jordan showed up to the fifth game in the final series of the NBA championship with his Bulls side locked at 2-2 against the Utah Jazz. The game was being played in Utah and on the morning of the big game in Salt Lake City, Jordan was curled over in his bed. Fans were tuning their television sets into the big game and were greeted with the news that the main star was struggling.

Everything you thought you knew – but didn’t – about Jordan’s ‘Flu Game’

It seemed as though Jordan wasn’t going to make the game as he was looking rough in the moments leading up to the beginning of the match. Bravely, Jordan refused to sit the game out and forced his way onto the court that fateful evening in 1997.

The game

The Bulls were down by 16 points after the first quarter, and it looked as though Jordan’s poor state was affecting his team’s performance. That was when Jordan himself decided he wasn’t letting the game slip away and pulled out one of his best-ever performances, especially given the circumstances. Sweating profusely, and being constantly fed fluids when he was off the court, Jordan would not be denied.

He scored a total of 38 points that game and amazingly was the player with the longest amount of game time on court. Jordan was so crucial to the way Chicago played that he just had to play. The legendary baller inspired his team to a 90-88 point victory over the Jazz in Utah, putting the Bulls up 3-2 in the most crucial meeting of the series. He did all of this while nearly passing out and losing vital fluids with each passing second.

Everything you thought you knew – but didn’t – about Jordan’s ‘Flu Game’

The reality

It wasn’t until 15 years after the ‘Flu Game’ that Jordan admitted he wasn’t suffering from flu at all. He hadn’t been faking his symptoms, but it was something else entirely that had caused him to feel so ill. On the night before the Bulls played the Jazz in Utah Jordan and his teammates ordered a pizza from a local restaurant.

When it arrived Jordan’s former personal trainer advised against anyone eating the pizza. He didn’t say if it was because they feared they pizza had been sabotaged, or just not cooked properly, but the only person to eat it was Jordan. Several hours later, Jordan’s trainer was called to the basketball star’s room and there he was doubled over, suffering from what was thought to be food poisoning.

Despite the health issues, Jordan rose to the occasion and proved he wouldn’t lay down and quit. His inspirational performance in Salt Lake City inspired the Bulls to beat the Jazz two days later and seal Jordan’s fifth NBA Championship.

Everything you thought you knew – but didn’t – about Jordan’s ‘Flu Game’