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Michael Jordan's 'flu game' was 20 years ago today and you're old

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1997 was a long time ago and I’m sorry.

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This post will probably make you feel old and for that I am sorry, but June 11 marks the 20th anniversary of Michael Jordan’s “Flu Game.” You can actually watch the entire game here, while you wait another day for the NBA Finals to start back up. The broadcast starts with Ahmad Rashad reporting the following:

“At 3:30 this morning, Michael Jordan woke up with flu like symptoms. He had a stomach ache and a headache, and he couldn’t go back to sleep. He threw up all night and as reported earlier he missed shoot around, but he was in bed all day and continued to throw up. As a matter of fact he got in here early. When I went to talk to him back in the back room, he was in a dark room trying to get some rest, but still throwing up. And Marv, I talked to him, I said ‘How do you feel?’ and he said ‘I really feel horrible.’ It is history in games where he’s either been hurt or sick, it’s been bad news for the opponent.”

How true that would go on to be. Jordan scored 38 points in a 90-88 win for the Chicago Bulls, including a three-pointer with under a minute to go that gave the Bulls their final lead. He also had seven rebounds, five assists, three steals, and one block. The Bulls took a 3-2 lead that night and would win the 1997 NBA Finals in Game 6.

20 years later, the flu game is full of conspiracies. Jalen Rose once said he thought Jordan was hungover instead of having the flu. I get that there is a good chance that Jordan could have had a few drinks the night before Game 5, but hangovers don’t really have that kind of impact on you. The conspiracy I believe? That the pizza place they ordered from did it on purpose, as reported by Jordan’s trainer Tim Grover.

Jalen Rose is just mad about the Flu Game, Kobe’s 81-point game, and so on and so on. No need to discredit the ridiculous performance from Jordan that game. But the five guys that it took to deliver one pizza? Definitely sketchy.


The flu game photo still matters 20 years later.

Maybe the most iconic thing to come from the game was the picture of Scottie Pippen holding up Jordan as they walked off the floor.

But did you know that Steve Kerr is actually cropped out of that photo? He played in that game, too, scoring zero points, pulling down two rebounds, and dishing out one assist in 24 minutes. Not great, Coach.

Anyway, that photo so important, it lives on still today in pop culture. You can get flu game socks.

Or a phone case.

Or even some art for your walls.


What else was happening in 1997 during the flu game?

  1. Hanson’s “MMMBop” was the No. 1 song in the country. Did you know they have their own beer company now and sell one called the MMMHop? Come on, it’s kind of clever.

2. Con Air was the top movie at the box office, but it should be noted that the summer of 1997 had a ridiculous lineup of great films. The Lost World: Jurassic Park was the top movie for two weeks before, while Men in Black, Face/Off, and Batman & Robin were released later in June.

3. The NHL also announced in June of 1997 that they would be adding a team in Nashville. GO PREDATORS!

I will always have a strong love for the late 90s and this post has confirmed that. And OK, it’s alright to feel old now.