Scottie Pippen (L) hugs Chicago Bulls teammate Michael Jordan at the end of game five of the 1997 NBA Finals--the flu game.(JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)
The legend of Michael Jordan's flu game from the 1997 NBA Finals continues to grow, maybe a bit like Pinocchio's nose, you decide.
Tim Grover, Jordan's former personal trainer, told TrueHoop TV that MJ contracted food poisoning before his famed 37-point performance in Game 5. The food poisoning itself isn't the issue - it was originally suspected that the "flu" from which Jordan suffered was related to something he ate. What's newsworthy is Grover's claim that a rogue pizza delivery man was responsible for the ailment.
In the interview, Grover describes how the team was in Park City, Utah, and it was too late to order room service. They called a pizza place to deliver to the team hotel, which Grover says was well known by locals.
Five guys came to deliver this pizza.
I take the pizza and I tell them: "I've got a bad feeling about this. ... I've just got a bad feeling about this."
Out of everybody in the room, [MJ] was the only one who ate. Nobody else had it.
And then 2 o'clock in the morning I get a call to my room. Come to the room. He's curled up in the fetal position. We're looking at him, finding the team physician at that time.
Immediately I told him it's food poisoning. Not the flu.
Jordan didn't get out of bed during the off-day in the Finals, then showed up to the Delta Center three hours before tip-off the next night, surprising his teammates, who expected him to miss the game. He was dehydrated and had lost weight. That didn't stop him from playing 44 minutes and scoring 37 points in a crucial three-point win.
"That was probably the most difficult thing I've ever done," Jordan said after.
This is the second Flu Game theory to hit in recent months. Earlier this year, Jalen Rose said Jordan's condition was caused by a hangover.
Both stories require a stretch of the imagination, but the food poisoning tale sounds more legit. Rose's hangover theory forced you to make two huge assumptions. First, that MJ ever got a hangover. Second, that a hangover he got in a Salt Lake City suburb was worse than the ones he'd get while gaming in Atlantic City or club hopping in Chicago. It doesn't add up, Jalen.