Bulls fans remember Michael Jordan’s “Flu Game” 20 years later

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SALT LAKE CITY, UT - JUNE 11: Michael Jordan #23 and Scottie Pippen #33 of the Chicago Bulls celebrate after winning game five of the 1997 NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz on June 11, 1997 in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Andy Hayt/NBAE/Getty Images)

CHICAGO – There have been a copious amount of incredible performances by “His Airness” through the years. In fact, classifying which one is best can be a challenge for even the most die-hard of Bulls’ fans.

But there was something about June 11, 1997 that was different than the others -a  performance by No. 23 that was truly different than others in his storied career.

That’s when Michael Jordan, suffering from flu-like symptoms, poured in 38 points as the Bulls beat the Jazz 90-88 at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City.


On the 20th anniversary, this is the iconic image many associate with the moment.

After hitting one of his final shots on the evening, a weary Jordan leaned on teammate Scottie Pippen as they went to the sidelines for a timeout late in the game.

Not surprisingly, this is the moment the Bulls remembered first when remembering the anniversary of this contest on Sunday.

What Jordan specifically had is up for debate. On the broadcast, Marv Albert described it as “Flu-like symptoms” while Jordan’s trainer Jim Grove said in a book released in 2013 that it was food poisioning due to a bad pizza.

Either way Jordan looked ill when he took the floor for a pivotal Game 5 after the Jazz had won the previous two games to tie the series. Despite his struggles, including pictures of him on the sidelines with an ice pack on his head, Jordan hit 13-of-27 shots from the field and led all scorers with 38 points on the evening.