Michael Jordan says bad pizza, not the flu made him sick before iconic Game 5 win over Jazz


“The flu game” is Page 1 of Michael Jordan canon.

Utter the phrase, and every basketball fan knows it’s a reference to Jordan battling through illness to beat the Utah Jazz in the NBA Finals. It turns out, we’ve had it wrong all this time.

At least according to Jordan and his crew.

Episode 9 of “The Last Dance” on Sunday has changed the narrative and spawned a new conspiracy theory.

So there was no flu?

Jordan told the story of hanging out with trainer Tim Grover and personal assistant George Koehler in his Utah hotel room the night before Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals. He was hungry around 10:30 p.m. and settled on pizza when nothing else was open.

A whole crew of restaurant workers showed up to deliver one pie. Or so the new story goes.

Michael Jordan Scottie Pippen(AP Photo/Jack Smith, File)
Michael Jordan spawned a new conspiracy theory around an unnamed Salt Lake City pizza joint on Sunday. (AP Photo/Jack Smith, File)

5 guys to deliver 1 pizza?

“Five guys delivering one pizza,” Grover said. “They’re all trying to look in. I take the pizza. I pay them. I put this pizza down. I say, ‘I’ve got a bad feeling about this pizza,’” Grover said.

Despite the bad feeling, Jordan ate the pizza. Nobody else partook.

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

Grover described Jordan as curled up in a ball and shaking, asking for a doctor.

“It really wasn’t the flu game,” Jordan said. “It was food poisoning.”

Who delivered the pizza?

Unfortunately for Jazz fans, nothing else about the story changed. Jordan still went on to tally 38 points, seven rebounds and five assists. He still went on to hit a critical late 3-pointer in a 90-88 win as the Bulls took a 3-2 Finals lead. He still went on to be helped off the court by Scottie Pippen.

The Bulls still went on to win their fifth NBA championship in the first of two straight Finals wins over the Jazz.

As for the pizza restaurant? No names were named. But here’s to the internet sleuthing that’s going to uncover what Salt Lake City pizza restaurants were open after 10 p.m. on June 10, 1997.

MJ spit on the pizza?

After the final episode aired on Sunday, “The Last Dance” director Jason Hehir revealed some information that didn’t make the final cut. Hehir told ESPN’s Jalen & Jacoby that he was told in interviews for the documentary that Jordan claimed that pizza as his own and spit on it to make sure nobody else ate it.

He said he was skeptical that the pizza was “spiked,” but believed Jordan’s story that nobody else ate a slice.

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Originally published