Chicago Bulls Writer Believes Michael Jordan Suffered From Altitude Sickness During ‘Flu Game’

May 23, 2020, 10:37 PM | Updated: 10:39 pm
Michael Jordan - Chicago Bulls - Utah Jazz - Game 5 1997 NBA Finals...
Chicago Bulls Michael Jordan at the end of game five of the 1997 NBA Finals 11 June at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Jordan scored 38 points leading the Bulls to a 90-88 to take a 3-2 lead in the series. AFP PHOTO/JEFF HAYNES (Photo credit: JEFF HAYNES/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo credit: JEFF HAYNES/AFP via Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Author of the book “The Jordan Rules” and Bulls.com writer Sam Smith believes that NBA legend and former Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan suffered from altitude sickness during the “flu game” in the 1997 NBA Finals.

Jordan suffered from flu-like symptoms before and during the game on June 11, 1997, in Salt Lake City.

Despite the symptoms, the Bulls guard put up 38 points on 13-27 field goals, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, and a block to lead Chicago to a 90-88 win.

Jordan’s performance earned the contest the nickname MJ’s “Flu Game.”

The victory gave Jordan and the Bulls a 3-2 advantage in the series as they traveled back to the Windy City for a championship-clinching Game 6 win.

In the more than 20 years that have passed since that game, many have wondered if Jordan suffered from influenza or if the symptoms were caused by something else.

In the recent ESPN documentary series, “The Last Dance,” it was said that Jordan had food poisoning from pizza ordered the night before Game 5.

Altitude Sickness?

Smith joined The Dan Patrick Show on Friday, May 22, and the Bulls guard didn’t have food poisoning during the “flu game.”

“It wasn’t food poisoning. He made that up. There we several things based on a true story kind of thing in this and that was one of them. I know if our society we like to believe in conspiracy theories a lot cause they’re a lot more fun and interesting than the truth,” Smith told Dan Patrick. “He wasn’t poisoned. That’s not what happened… The story in watching the documentary, I mean seriously, five people — Michael Jordan the most protected — nobody knows where he is — secure person. All the sudden five guys from a pizza place —and by the way, who’s ordering pizza in Salt Lake City? But beyond that and they were in Park City.”

Patrick asked Smith if he didn’t think it was food poisoning, what he thought Jordan suffered from during the “flu game” performance.

“He was ill. There’s no question. I think he had something that wasn’t as manly as maybe some other episodes,” Smith said. “I think because what they were doing they were going up to Park City in the mountains in the ski area to stay. That’s where they stayed. So they had a practice in Salt Lake City. So they kept coming in and out and I think it was altitude sickness. The symptoms that he had fit that much more than anything else that he had. There was some sort of illness. No question he was ill. I wouldn’t deny that. He definitely was. He was sick but he wasn’t poisoned.

Food Poisoning Theory

Prior to the final two episodes of “The Last Dance,” Jordan’s longtime trainer Tim Grover, said that Jordan suffered from food poisoning during the game and that it came from pizza.

Grover joined Barstool Sports’ “Pardon My Take” podcast to state his opinion for the cause of Jordan’s symptoms from the well-known game.

“One hundred percent it was food poisoning, 100 percent,” Grover said. “Obviously it just sounds better to be the ‘Flu Game’ than the ‘Food Poisoning Game.'”

Jordan’s longtime trainer continued by saying that the Bulls star ordered late-night pizza from a restaurant in Park City, Utah the evening before Game 5.

Grover said that he answered the hotel door and saw five delivery people and thought that was suspicious. He told Jordan of his suspicions but Jordan at the pizza anyway.

“Nobody ate the pizza but him. Nobody,” Grover continued. “There were no signs of flu, anything, being sick before that. Then, about 3 o’clock in the morning, I get a call to my room that just says, ‘Hey, man, come to MJ’s room’ and he’s literally curled up in the fetal position. I’ve not known any flu that can hit you that fast, but I know how quickly food poisoning can hit you.”

If either Smith or Grover have the correct answer, it seems as though Jordan’s famous “flu game” performance should more correctly be dubbed “The Altitude Sickness Game” or “The Food Poisoning Game.”

“That’s my story, that’s what I observed,” Grover said. “I was in the room when all this was going on, so if anybody had a better look than I did I’d like to see who that person was because they definitely weren’t there.”

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