Michael Jordan’s Longtime Trainer Dispels ‘Flu Game’ Myth

Michael Jordan attends a 2010 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.
John Harrelson / Getty Images

One of the NBA’s ultimate legends, Michael Jordan’s “Flu Game” against the Utah Jazz during the 1997 NBA Finals, may actually be something of a tall tale, according to the Hall of Famer’s longtime trainer, Tim Grover. As reported by the New York Post, while appearing on a recent episode of Barstool’s Pardon My Take podcast, Grover opined that Jordan didn’t have the flu at all.

While speaking with host Dan Katz via video conference, Grover strongly stated his firm belief that Jordan was actually suffering from food poisoning when he scored 38 points to lead the Chicago Bulls to a key win over the Jazz in Salt Lake City, 90-88, despite being visibly ill. The Bulls went on to win the series 4-2 and capture their fifth of six championships in the process.

“One hundred percent it was food poisoning; 100 percent. But obviously it just sounds better to be the ‘Flu Game’ than the ‘Food Poisoning Game,'” he said. “That doesn’t even roll off your tongue correctly.”

Grover, who also trained Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, and other world-class athletes in multiple sports, went on to recount a story about Jordan ordering pizza to his Park City hotel room the previous night and getting sick as a result.

As the story goes, only Jordan ate the pizza in question. Then, at around 3 a.m., Grover received a call prompting him to return to Jordan’s room and appraising him of the fact that Jordan was now “curled up in the fetal position” and suffering apparent flu-like symptoms.

The sickness prevailed on game day, but Jordan still managed to play 44 minutes and register a performance that would inevitably be considered one of his signature moments.

To this day, the Flu Game resonates with basketball fans and prognosticators alike. Earlier this month, CBS Sports ranked the Flu Game as the seventh-greatest moment of Jordan’s career.

Jordan’s Flu Game will likely feature prominently in the closing episodes of ESPN’s The Last Dance. The 10-part docu-series, which will conclude this Sunday, covers Jordan’s career with the Bulls, focusing primarily on the team’s sixth and final championship run during the 1997-98 season. Grover joined Pardon My Take to discuss the series, as well as his personal experience with Jordan.

Discussion about Jordan’s legendary killer instinct and incredible basketball skills have returned to the public consciousness in a major way since The Last Dance began airing. As reported by The Inquisitr, former NBA MVP Steve Nash name-checked Jordan as being the most feared player of all time while discussing the series.