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Michael Jordan: The Flu Game

Updated on September 22, 2012

The Shrug

Jordan after hitting his sixth three pointer in the first half against the Blazers
Jordan after hitting his sixth three pointer in the first half against the Blazers | Source

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

Jordan collaspes into Scottie's arm after a mammoth effort against the Jazz.
Jordan collaspes into Scottie's arm after a mammoth effort against the Jazz. | Source

The Flu Game: 10 Years on

That Game

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.

Space Jam
Space Jam

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

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    • onthegrind profile image

      onthegrind 5 years ago from Florida, United States

      I remember watching this game in amazement. I think it was more impressive afterwards realizing what he had accomplished while playing ill. He was a true champion. Good write!

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 5 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Thanks onthegrind, I don't think there will ever another player like Jordan.

    • Barbsbitsnpieces profile image

      Barbara Anne Helberg 5 years ago from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA

      @JKenny...Michael had a great flu game. So did Dirk in the playoffs against Miami last year.

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 5 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Yes I remember that game last year. I think ultimately that was what won the series for Dallas, Dirk's determination to play despite feeling feverish. When I watched it, I thought that the parallels with 1997 were quite eerie.

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 5 years ago from North-East UK

      Really enjoyed this hub. I love American sports - I much prefer them to British ones though my preference is for baseball. I have seen him play though and he was something else wasn't he? It's incredible to imagine someone being able to get out of bed, never mind play with flu. What a trooper! He played baseball after basketball - what an athlete.

      Voted up, etc.

    • mythicalstorm273 profile image

      mythicalstorm273 5 years ago

      I was never that big of a basketball fan, but I must admit that Jordan will always be an inspiration. He shot for the goal and did more than many athletes could ever imagine. He really was a team player in the best ways possible! I did not know about this game that you talked about, but it was interesting reading about it now.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      MJ is one awesome b-ball player. The best! I've been a fan for many years of the sport and the man. Not even the flu could take him done. Amazing hub!! Thank you for sharing it!:)

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 5 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Thanks Jools. I like American sports as well, although I did enjoy the last day of the Premiership- such excitement, and the look on Alex Ferguson's face made my day.

      Yeah he did play baseball for a while, but then he went back to the sport he was truly good at. Quite simply 'he's the best there ever was, and the best there ever will be,' Thanks for popping by.

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 5 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Hi mythicalsorm273, the one thing I really admired about Jordan was loyalty. He joined the Bulls when they were rubbish and transformed them into the best the world has ever seen- a process taking many years. It's a shame that Lebron James isn't cut from the same mould. Thanks for popping by.

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 5 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Thanks Sunshine, there are a lot of good players around now, but none will ever quite have the impact that MJ had. Without him, the NBA would still be just an American brand, instead of a league enjoyed by millions around the world.

    • DRG Da Real Grinc profile image

      Felix J Hernandez 4 years ago from All over the USA

      Greatest performance of all time for all sports!

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 4 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Yep, no arguments here. He was simply the best of the best, even when he wasn't healthy. Thanks.

    • jeolmoz2 profile image

      Julio E Olmo Sr 4 years ago from Florida, USA

      Great Hub! My Hub The House that Michael Jordan Built not as good yours, but I'm big Jordan fan as well...again, nicely done!

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 4 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Thanks jeolmoz2, hmmm...I'm surprised I haven't come across that hub before, I'll go check it out. Thanks again.

    • jeolmoz2 profile image

      Julio E Olmo Sr 4 years ago from Florida, USA

      I remember watching this game too...I thought to myself this guy's nuts...he would rather be taking out to a hospital on a stretcher than come out of a game and admit defeat

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Happy 50th Birthday to Michael Jordan!!

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 4 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Oh yeah, I forgot about that Linda. Thanks for reminding me hehe!

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 4 years ago from Birmingham, England

      I know, but it just goes to the character and determination of the man. No wonder the Bulls were one of the most successful sports dynasties of all time.

    • Lyricalvibes profile image

      Reza Vergara 4 years ago from Orange County, CA.

      No argument here, definitely the best basketball player that ever played the game. At 50 he can probably beat any of us in a game of 1 on 1 still.

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 4 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Yep, I bet he can still dunk too. Thanks for popping by.

    • EJ Lambert profile image

      EJ Lambert 4 years ago from Chicago, IL

      No game better signified what separated Michael Jordan from the rest. His freakish athleticism and talent were great, but it was his incredible will that made him the greatest of all time. To not only play in that game with the flu, but be the best player on the floor with Karl Malone, John Stockton and Scottie Pippen all healthy is astounding.

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 4 years ago from Birmingham, England

      I couldn't agree with you more EJ, that's why he'll always be the best. I see you're from Chicago, I bet it was a fun place to be during the 80s and 90s?

    • EJ Lambert profile image

      EJ Lambert 4 years ago from Chicago, IL

      You have no idea. It was one of those rare times in sports where you get to be a fan and actually not feel so panicky when your team is down in a game or a series because you know the other team doesn't have Michael Jordan. It was awesome.

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 4 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Well, hopefully someday you'll get that feeling again. Although I'm not sure whether Derrick Rose is quite in the same league as MJ!

    • EJ Lambert profile image

      EJ Lambert 4 years ago from Chicago, IL

      Different kinds of players. Rose is three inches shorter and plays a different position. However I do see a lot of the clutch genes in him that Michael had. We'll see if he can take on the leadership attributes that helped Michael overcome the Pistons and other obstacles.

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