Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Updated: April 18, 12:55 PM ET
Trainer: MJ had food poisoning
Michael Jordan's former personal trainer, Tim Grover, said it was food poisoning, not the flu, that affected the former Chicago Bulls star during Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals, which has come to be known as "The Flu Game."
It's considered one of the greatest games of Jordan's career and in NBA Finals history, as he scored 38 points to help lead the Bulls to a 90-88 victory against the Jazz in Utah, despite battling a physical ailment that made him visibly weak. The Bulls went on to clinch their fifth title in Game 6.
"Yes, 100 percent poisoned for ('The Flu Game')," Grover said on TrueHoop TV. "Everyone called it a 'Flu Game,' but we sat there and we were in the room, we were in Park City, Utah, up in a hotel. Room service stopped at like 9 o'clock. And he got hungry, and we really couldn't find any other place to eat so we ordered ... I said, 'Hey, the only thing I could find is a pizza place.' He said, 'All right, order pizza.' We had been there for a while, so everybody knows what hotel ... I mean Park City (didn't have) many hotels back then. Everybody kind of knew where we were staying.
"So we order a pizza, they come to deliver it, five guys come to deliver this pizza. And I'm just ... I take the pizza, and I tell them, I said, 'I got a bad feeling about this.' I said, 'I just got a bad feeling about this.' Out of everybody in the room, he was the only one that ate. Nobody else ... then 2 o'clock in the morning, I get a call to my room. I come to the room, he's curled up, he's curled up in the fetal position. We're looking at him. We're finding the team physician at that time. And immediately I said, 'It's food poisoning.' Guaranteed. Not the flu."
It's not the first time the idea of food poisoning has surfaced.
"(Former Bulls guard Ron) Harper always said that it was bad pizza," Phil Jackson said in an interview with ESPN Los Angeles in February 2012. "You know, Ronnie Harper always thought it was a bad food type of thing."
Whatever the cause, the effect was clear as it appeared Jordan was so weak at one point that he seemed to collapse into the arms of Scottie Pippen.
"Scottie was all about, 'We'll take care of the defense. Don't expend yourself. Save yourself for the other end of the floor where you can score. We know you can finish this game off and I'll help you out part-time and hedge off my man.' " Jackson explained. "And Scottie set him up by drawing the double team and getting the ball back to Michael (on offense). But, it looks like Michael, basically, collapses in Scottie's arms more than anything else. Not only does Scottie give him a hug, but it looks like he also was leaning on him for some support."
Jackson said he wasn't sure how much Jordan was going to be able to play.
"Well, his eyes weren't cleared," Jackson said. "They were kind of clouded, watering and so on and so forth. So, his demeanor was such that you had to speculate how much he could play and how well he could play."
Jordan ranks the game as among his most difficult.
"That was probably the most difficult thing I've ever done," Jordan said, according to NBA.com. "I almost played myself into passing out just to win a basketball game. If we had lost, I would have been devastated."