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Michael Jordan’s ‘Flu Game’ for Bulls really tied to tainted pizza, trainer says

Scottie Pippen helps flu-ridden Michael Jordan off court during  1997 Bulls playoff game. A health group wants Gatorade ad

Scottie Pippen helps a flu-ridden Michael Jordan off the court during a 1997 Bulls playoff game. A health group wants a Gatorade ad referring to the game pulled, saying it wrongly encourages people to play through illness. —Sun-Times photo/ Tom Cruze

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Updated: April 18, 2013 3:59PM

It has become known as “The Flu Game,” but Michael Jordan’s former personal trainer wants you to know one of the signature performances of MJ’s career had more to do with bad pizza — possibly poisoned by passionate Utah Jazz fans.

During that Game 5 performance of the 1997 NBA Finals between the Bulls and Jazz, Jordan was visibly ailing, yet scored 38 points to help fuel a 90-88 victory.

“Yes, 100 percent poisoned for [‘The Flu Game’],” Grover recently told 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.”

Last year, former Bulls coach Phil Jackson told a similar story that indicated Jordan was dealing with food poisoning and not the flu.

“[Former Bulls guard Ron] Harper always said that it was bad pizza,” 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.”

The Bulls clinched their fifth title in Game 6. Jordan has called the Game 5 performance one of the toughest of his career.

“That was probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever done,” Jordan said, according to “I almost played myself into passing out just to win a basketball game. If we had lost, I would have been devastated.”

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