The Curious Case of Michael Jordan’s Flu Game

Few NBA stars possess the ability to have their first names be recognizable above any other name in their sport. Today’s game boasts interesting names such as Kobe and LeBron, but before they were old enough to lace-up sneakers, one man separated basketball from sports.

Michael was, and remains, the most recognizable name in not just sports but popular entertainment. 

His most famous and controversial game is, inevitably, the Game 5 of the 1997 finals between the  Utah Jazz and Chicago Bulls in Salt Lake City is known as the “flu game.” It was a game of legend and myth-building. 

In a much controversial statement, Grover recalls having a bad feeling for the pizza delivery they received that night. Jordan didn’t have the flu the next, but it was instead a case of a bad stomach. He suffered a bout of food poisoning upon consuming pizza from a local pizzeria. The night before the game, Jordan was hungry, and those assembled in his room ordered pizza, which was conjectured to be intentionally poisoned. Police later interrogated the five delivery boys, but nothing substantial was found. 

Jordan said he woke up at 2:30 a.m. “throwing up left and right,” and said he couldn’t hold anything down and stayed in bed all day.

Jordan’s mom, Deloris, suggested he not play. “Mom, I have to play.” And play he did. Jordan scored 38 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and three steals, giving the Bulls a 3-2 series lead headed back to Chicago for Game 6.

On Sunday’s episode of The Last Dance, this controversial episode was aired. The Flu Pizza could have been toppled the game, if not for Jordan’s iron will and determination. Twitter has responded with hoards of memes following the broadcast; however, DiGiorno’s twitter handle took the cake or, in this case, pizza. The frozen pizza makers quipped in a tweet, “Delivery pizza. Go figure.” The latest episode of The Last Dance is taking its place in the Hall of Fame of the show’s history.

Jordan’s air-ness may share his name with the King of Pop, and their achievements may be similar on a global stage but Michael Jordan’s ability to combine his results as an athlete and his ability to bolster his public image with his successes in the business world undoubtedly separate him from the other Michael.

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