Sneaker History: Michael Jordan “Flu Game”

Michael Jordan "Flu Game"

It’s hard to believe but it has been sixteen years since Michael Jordan had his famous “flu game” against the Utah Jazz during game 5 of 1997 NBA Finals. The Bulls were coming off two straight losses to the Jazz and many experts saying the team was losing confidence and weakened. Then came the news that Jordan was sick just before the next game in Utah. He remembers waking up in the middle of the night a day before the game, sweating profusely, shaking, and feeling as if he was going to die. The team’s medical staff evaluated him and said he was suffering from food poisoning or an intestinal stomach virus. Ge was told there was no way he would play game 5.

Whereas most players would have rested since they would not be helping the team when sick, when you are the greatest of all time there are no off days. Three hours before tip-off he drags himself out of bed, dehydrated and down a few pounds, to head to the Delta Center. What resulted is heralded as one of the most heroic NBA Finals game in history. Scottie Pippen told MJ that the team would work extra hard on defense so he could rest and that they would do anything they could to make it easier on him. But even Pippen was wondering how Jordan was even able to lace up his black/red Air Jordan XII’s.

Air Jordan 12 "Flu Game" Retro uploaded by john hammerAir Jordan 12 “Flu Game” Retro uploaded by john hammer

But he did and it was amazing. Running at what seemed to be 1/2 strength at times, Jordan willed his way to tally up 38 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals. Not bad for a man who some were saying was past his prime. The feat so amazing that Jordan Brand released the same colorway of the Air Jordan 12 Retro in 2009 with the addition of details to commemorate the game. The year, points scored and sick emoticon added.

Michael Jordan Scottie Pippen "Flu Game"

One of the most memorable images from the game is right after the game ends with Jeff Hornacek’s 3-pointer failing and the Bulls winning with the final score 90-88. Pippen hugging, and helping, MJ off the court, who literally left it all on the court. No one asked that night if it was the shoes. If it was the flu, hangover or food poisoning it didn’t matter. Because at the end of the day it was obviously the man who pushed his team, and himself, to victory and eventually the Championship in game 6, arguably one of if not his best Finals performance.

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