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Michael Jordan Confirms Iconic 'Flu Game' vs. Jazz Was Result of Food Poisoning

Megan ArmstrongSenior Analyst IIMay 18, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - JUNE 11: Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls walks off the court during Game Five of the 1997 NBA Finals played against the Utah Jazz on June 11, 1997 at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Chicago Bulls defeated the Utah Jazz 90-88.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1997 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Dick Raphael/Getty Images

Michael Jordan's "Flu Game" can officially be renamed the "Food Poisoning Game."

The famous game was the fifth in the 1997 NBA Finals between Jordan's Chicago Bulls and the Utah Jazz.

"So, really, it wasn't the flu game. It was food poisoning," Jordan admitted during the ninth episode of The Last Dance on ESPN Sunday night. "I stayed in bed all day. Couldn't eat anything. Couldn't hold nothing down."

Tim Grover, Jordan's personal trainer at the time, explained that the Hall of Famer had gotten hungry the night before but room service was unable. Instead, they ordered a pizza from the only place they could find that was open.

"I put this pizza down, and I said, 'I've got a bad feeling about this," Grover said.

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Grover's intuition was correct, as Jordan recounted waking up at 2:30 a.m. "throwing up left and right."

"He had an IV hooked up to him, and he was chalky-white," former Chicago Bulls center Bill Wennington, Jordan's teammate at the time, added in the episode. "Didn't look good, and I was like, "Oh boy. We're in trouble."

"[Head coach] Phil [Jackson] comes in and says, 'What do you think?'" Jordan continued. "I said, 'Look, I'm gonna try. It's Game 5. If anything, I can be a decoy. So I'm going out. I'm gonna play.'"

Jordan bucketed a game-high 38 points as the Bulls defeated the Jazz 90-88 and took a 3-2 series lead. Chicago carried that momentum in Game 6, winning 90-86 and capturing its fifth championship since 1991.

Episode 9 also captured the decisive Game 6 of the 1997 NBA Finals and Steve Kerr's game-winning shot:

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The Last Dance premiered April 19, and ESPN has dropped two new episodes each Sunday night, going behind the scenes with the 1997-98 Bulls squad that won its sixth and final championship before Jordan announced his retirement. Jackson, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and other key members departed following the 1998 NBA Finals as well.

The Bulls again topped the Jazz 4-2 in the 1998 Finals with Jordan earning his sixth—and third consecutive—Finals MVP award.

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