Michael Jordan’s 1997 “flu game” is one of the most widely speculated-upon events in sports history, but The Last Dance has finally put the record straight.
Jordan was famously unwell during Game 5 of the NBA Finals between his Chicago Bulls and the Utah Jazz, frequently slumped over with his hands on his knees, sweating profusely and chugging fluids on the sideline.
His symptoms were attributed to a number of possible causes, including the flu, or — depending on who you asked — a gruesome hangover. According to the GOAT himself, though, it was food poisoning from a “bad pizza.”
During the final episode of The Last Dance, Jordan talks about the pizza theory, which has been around for a few years. The theory is that Jordan, who had ordered a pizza the night before Game 5 in Utah, was delivered a “poisoned” pizza that was supposed to make him too sick to play the next night.
Jordan’s teammates repeatedly stress that he ate the ill-fated pizza alone. “I ate the pizza,” Jordan confirmed on The Last Dance. “All by myself. Nobody else eats the pizza. I wake up about 2:30 throwing up left and right.”
In a 2013 interview, Jordan’s former personal trainer Tim Grover recalled, “So we order a pizza, they come to deliver it, five guys come to deliver this pizza. And I’m just … I take the pizza, and I tell them, I said, ‘I got a bad feeling about this.’ I said, ‘I just got a bad feeling about this.’ Out of everybody in the room, he was the only one that ate. Nobody else.”
But even in a severely compromised physical condition, Jordan played 44 minutes and scored 38 points, including a game-winning three-pointer that helped the Bulls defeat Utah 90-88. The black and red Nike Air Jordan 12s MJ had on his feet during the game went down in history and have since reached legendary status, dubbed the “Flu Game” 12s.