Utah Jazz: 'Flu Game' or 'Intentional Food Poisoning Game' for MJ?

Published: Thursday, April 18 2013 12:04 a.m. MDT

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Remember Michael Jordan's "Flu Game" in the 1997 NBA Finals?

Of course you do.

Despite the various theories of what might have happened to get Jordan in subpar condition, his trainer, Tim Grover, claims it was something much more nefarious than simply flu.

Grover believes it was intentional food poisoning.

"One hundred percent," Grover told TrueHoop TV. "He was poisoned for the 'Flu Game.' Everyone called it a flu game, but we sat there. We were in the room."

In that famous contest, Jordan led Chicago to a 90-88 win over the Jazz at the building formerly known as the Delta Center despite dealing with flu-like symptoms.

At one point, the energy-depleted Jordan had to be helped off the court by Scottie Pippen. Despite his health issues in that June 11 game, His Airness' heroics gave the Bulls a 3-2 lead in the first of consecutive championships at the Jazz's expense.

Sixteen years later, Jordan's trainer claims flu wasn't what hampered No. 23 that night.

Grover explained that Jordan stayed at a hotel in Park City and ordered delivery to his room at 9 o'clock the night before Game 5.

"He got hungry and we really couldn't find any other place to eat, so we said eh, the only thing I can find is a pizza place," Grover recalled. "So we says all right, order pizza. 

We had been there for a while. Everybody knew what hotel. Park City was not many hotels back then. So everyone kind of knew where we were staying."

A while later, five guys allegedly showed up to the hotel room with the pizza delivery.

"I take the pizza and I tell them, 'I've got a bad feeling about this. ... I've just got a bad feeling about this,' Grover said. "

Out of everybody in the room, (Jordan) was the only one who ate. Nobody else had it."

Jordan then apparently called Grover at 2 a.m. and said, "Come to the room."

The star was in bad condition.

"He's curled up in the fetal position," Grover said. "We're looking at him, finding the team physician at that time. 

Immediately, I told him it's food poisoning. 

Not the flu."

The rest is history.

Jordan woke up just in time to make it for tipoff and carried the Bulls, who had to rally out of a 16-point deficit in the second quarter.

SILVER LINING: With their 43-39 record after Wednesday's 96-80 season-ending loss to Memphis, this Jazz team finished as the best team in franchise history to not make the playoffs.

The only other Jazz squad to end with a winning record but without a postseason appearance was the 2003-04 team, which went 42-40. That was the first season after John Stockton and Karl Malone moved on and what some consider Hall of Famer Jerry Sloan's best coaching job.

That tidbit might not encourage the current Jazz club, though.

"They're disappointed because it's the end of the season for us," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "We had to win this game to have a chance to continue to go on. We were just thinking about this opportunity here tonight to take care of business here. I'm sure like everybody else everything won't hit until later on."

ROUGH ENDING: Jazz swingman Gordon Hayward had emotions ranging from frustration to sadness while sitting in the locker room following Utah's loss.

Get The Deseret News Everywhere