Michael Jordan's Infamous "Flu Game" Was Actually the Result of Bad Pizza

Michael Jordan revisited his infamous 1997 "Flu Game" in the Last Dance sports documentary series.

By Samantha Schnurr May 18, 2020 1:31 PMTags
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For once and for all, the cause of Michael Jordan's infamous "flu game" has been settled—and it wasn't the flu. 

Back in 1997 ahead of game five of the 1997 Finals against the Utah Jazz, it was initially said the iconic athlete had come down with flu-like symptoms and had been sick in the hours leading up to the court showdown. However, the court pro persevered and played despite his illness, scoring 38 points, including a finial 3-pointer. 

"He had shown that no matter how sick he was, he's still the best player in the world," teammate Scottie Pippen said in episode nine of ESPN's The Last Dance. In the episode, which aired Sunday night, the sports documentary miniseries revisited that iconic game and the sequence of events that transpired in Jordan's hotel room the night before. 

As he and colleagues explained in the episode, they were staying at a hotel in Park City, Utah. Around 10 p.m., Jordan was hungry and they found a single pizza place that was still open. 

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In the episode, they described a group of four or five men delivering the pizza, which had been strange considering only one person usually delivers pizza. However, they also recalled the men trying to look inside the room, indicating that they knew Jordan was staying there. 

"I said, 'I got a bad feeling about this,'" Jordan's personal trainer Tim Grover recalled in the episode.  

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Still, Jordan ate the entire pizza by himself. Just a few hours later, he woke up vomiting. Grover recalled seeing the athlete curled up in a ball shaking. While fans know that he ultimately played that night, Jordan had spent the entire day in bed, unable to keep any food down. 

"It really wasn't the flu game," Jordan declared. "It was food poisoning."