Michael Jordan: The Flu Game
Jordan at his best
Jordan's Career Highlights
Michael Jordan was quite simply the greatest ever to play the game of Basketball. So to try to pick out one game, out of the thousands that he played is a daunting task, because there are simply so many 'great' games that he played in. His final game as a Chicago Bull for example, where he hit a clutch shot with 18 seconds left, after stealing the ball from Karl Malone and completing his famous crossover move on the hapless Bryan Russell. There's Game 1 of the 1992 finals against Portland, where he hit the Blazers for three six times in the first half. Also Game 2 of the 1991 where he executed the legendary 'Move', the dunk that seemed to have gone wrong but turned into outrageous piece of skill, speaking after the game, he said: " I first intended to dunk the ball, but once I got up in the air I didn't think I had enough room. I thought I was going to fall short of the rim, so I switched hands and laid it in. I probably couldn't duplicate it if I tried. It was just one of those things," Another game that comes to mind is the 63 point game against a Celtics team that at the time was among the best in the league, it's a testament to the man, that even a game where he scores 63 against a league superpower doesn't even enter the equasion of what I think his greatest game is. There are other notables like when he hit the Knicks for 55 in only the fifth game of his first comeback, the famous 1982 NCAA Championship game where he sank the game winner, as well as the famous encounter with the Cavaliers where he hit 'the shot'. But there can be only one, and below I'll reveal what it is.
MJ and Scottie: An iconic moment
The Flu Game: 10 Years on
As you may have guessed from the title of this article, I am going to talk about a famous, almost legendary game from the 1997 Finals against the Utah Jazz. I probably chose to talk about this game above the others, because even at sub par strength, Jordan was still able to override his obvious physical ailments and lead his team to victory. I think that's one of the reasons why he had and still has such a huge appeal, because he was a superstar, but always played for the team, he never put himself ahead of the team. That attitude was one of the main factors why the Bulls were able to build two legendary dynasties. The flu game then, was actually Game 5 of those 97 Finals. The Bulls had a won a hard fought Game 1 with Jordan hitting at the buzzer, Game 2 was a much easier affair for the Bulls. But they still had to go to Utah and test themselves in the Jazz's backyard. From memory, I remember the Jazz having some of the rowdiest fans in the league, I remember one guy, totally bald, wearing a Jazz vest, and a nice collection of licence plates. I also remember him being a total lunatic, just shouting and screaming all the time. Game 3 saw the Jazz come roaring back into the series, much to the delight of the fans, who I remember chanting 'MVP' for Karl Malone. I must admit as a neutral I was glad that the Jazz won that game, because the last thing I wanted to see was a Chicago sweep. Game 4 was a much closer affair, and one that the Bulls let slip away, deep in the fourth quarter, they had the lead. But a huge 3 pointer from Stockon and a costly turnover and subsequent missed jump shot by Jordan on the next play, allowed the Jazz to regain the lead and level out the series. Game 5 was the pivotal one, the Jazz were in the position to make history by becoming the first team to win all of their home games in a finals series. The Jazz needed to win, to give themselves a real shot of winning the title, because after this latest clash, the series would swing back to Chicago. The Bulls, felt that by winning this game, they could easily seal their 5th title in 7 years and cement a new dynasty, and further seal their place in the illustrious history of the NBA. On the morning of the game, Jordan woke up with a horrible case of food poisoning from a bad room service pizza, he felt completely fatigued and nauseous after a troubled night. As the day progressed he felt no better. In the hour before the game, he stretched out in a dark room with a bucket on standby for his nausea.
Yet despite the fact his sickness was obvious to everyone, even the usual parade of media cynics, he still managed to score 38 points, the Bulls won 90-88, taking command of the series, which culminated in a memorable Game Six back in Chicago (for Steve Kerr, rather than Michael Jordan.) As well as summoning the energy to score 38 points, he also hauled down 7 rebounds and dished out 5 assists, he squeezed and twisted his way through picks, he recorded 3 steals and blocked a shot.
This game, I feel is the best that Michael Jordan ever played in, because he really did prove to everybody that he was truly the greatest that there had even been, or ever will be. Even struck down with flu, he was able to outperform his team mates and opponents, of course the Bulls clinched the series in Chicago a few days later thanks to Steve Kerr's clutch shot, but it was in Salt Lake City on June 11, 1997 where the Bulls won the psychological battle, and where they effectively clinched the series.
This film fired my passion for Basketball. If you have a kid of 11 or under and they like Basketball, buy them this film.
© 2012 James Kenny