Quantcast

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

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

Utah Jazz's Al Jefferson (25) drives against Memphis Grizzlies' Marc Gasol, of Spain, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Memphis, Tenn., Wednesday, April 17, 2013.  (Danny Johnston, Associated Press) Utah Jazz's Al Jefferson (25) drives against Memphis Grizzlies' Marc Gasol, of Spain, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Memphis, Tenn., Wednesday, April 17, 2013. (Danny Johnston, Associated Press)

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.

Memphis Grizzlies' Mike Conley (11) drives under Utah Jazz's Mo Williams (5) and Paul Millsap, left, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Memphis, Tenn., Wednesday, April 17, 2013.  (Danny Johnston, Associated Press) Memphis Grizzlies' Mike Conley (11) drives under Utah Jazz's Mo Williams (5) and Paul Millsap, left, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Memphis, Tenn., Wednesday, April 17, 2013. (Danny Johnston, Associated Press)

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."

Memphis Grizzlies' Marc Gasol, of Spain, right, shoots over Utah Jazz's Paul Millsap (24) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Memphis, Tenn., Wednesday, April 17, 2013.  (Danny Johnston, Associated Press) Memphis Grizzlies' Marc Gasol, of Spain, right, shoots over Utah Jazz's Paul Millsap (24) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Memphis, Tenn., Wednesday, April 17, 2013. (Danny Johnston, Associated Press)

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.

Memphis Grizzlies' Quincy Pondexter (20) dunks over Utah Jazz's Randy Foye during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Memphis, Tenn., Wednesday, April 17, 2013.  (Danny Johnston, Associated Press) Memphis Grizzlies' Quincy Pondexter (20) dunks over Utah Jazz's Randy Foye during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Memphis, Tenn., Wednesday, April 17, 2013. (Danny Johnston, Associated Press)

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.

"It's real difficult. This third year is gone for me at least," he said. "You never know what's going to happen next year with these guys. A lot of them I played with since my rookie year. That's how it works."

Hayward is one of only five Jazz players with a guaranteed contract for the 2013-14 season. The others include Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Alec Burks and Jeremy Evans. Utah has an option on rookie Kevin Murphy, and Marvin Williams has a player option.

Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson, Randy Foye, Mo Williams, DeMarre Carroll, Jamaal Tinsley, Earl Watson and Jerel McNeal will all be free agents this offseason.

Millsap, who reportedly turned down a three-year extension last summer, thought the number of future free agents on the team might have hurt the Jazz some this season.

"Uncertainty causes doubt," he said. "Nobody really knows what's going to happen with their future, so I'm going to say it did hurt a little bit. We're all professionals."

FRUSTRATED FINALE: Favors on the Jazz's early exit: "I'm mad, (ticked) right now, but I can't control it. I've just got to live with it, work harder this summer and come back next year."

EMAIL: jody@desnews.com TWITTER: DJJazzyJody

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company