Michael Jordan: I had food poisoning for ‘flu’ game

Bulls star Michael Jordan
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Michael Jordan – in what became known as the “flu game” – had a legendary performance in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals. He scored 38 points, including 15 in the fourth quarter, to lead the Bulls to a 90-88 win over the Jazz. A visibly sick Jordan played 44 minutes!

The story had only one problem: Jordan probably didn’t have the flu.

Jordan’s long-time trainer, Tim Grover, said Jordan got food poisoning from a pizza delivered by five people. In ESPN’s “The Last Dance” documentary, Jordan confirmed the pizza made him sick .


It’s 10, 10:30 at night. I’m hungry.

I ate the pizza. All by myself. Nobody else eats the pizza. I wake up about 2:30, throwing up left and right.

So, it really wasn’t the flu game. It was food poisoning.

The flu and food poisoning can have similar symptoms. Either way, Jordan played incredibly well through illness. Neither source affects the tremendous basketball accomplishment.

As far as the five deliverers, it seems plausible they got word the pizza was for Jordan’s room and all wanted to catch a glimpse of the superstar. Even if the pizza were tainted, I wouldn’t assume it was done deliberately.