In a week, the shoes that Michael Jordan wore during the legendary “flu game” — Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals, when a Jordan on the verge of passing out, more likely due to food poisoning, led the Bulls to a key win — will go up for auction.
After the game, Jordan gave the shoes to a Utah Jazz ballboy named Preston Truman, who kept the shoes in a safe deposit box all these years but has decided to sell them now.
He also decided to tell his story to the Salt Lake Tribune (via Lang at All Ball at NBA.com).
He was one of the first in the building to know that Jordan would play that night when, as Bulls coach Phil Jackson gathered the team to go onto the court, Jordan finally got up and put on his jersey. He watched Jordan struggle back to the bench during timeouts; he ran Jordan a spoon for three small cups of applesauce at halftime; he heard Jordan tell doctors “F— no” when they suggested he sit out for a while.
Truman’s parents would later tease him because the broadcast showed him — a lifelong Jazz fan — patting MJ on the shoulder after he wrapped him in a towel.
When Jordan hit the clinching shot and leaned into Scottie Pippen’s arms, barely able to stand, Truman estimates he was 5 feet away.
You need to read the entire story. Truman had his eye on those shoes and for the three middle games in that series in Utah he brought Jordan applesauce, did whatever he could to curry Jordan’s favor.
The story also says Jordan had food poisoning, not the flu. Which is what trainer Tim Grover has said for years.
In the end, all of Truman’s work paid off with a signed pair of shoes (there are photos to prove Jordan gave the kid the shoes). And if you have six digits or so of disposable income, the shoes can now be yours.