Cover Image for “We thought Michael Jordan had altitude sickness”: The Flu Game as revealed by Chicago Bulls’ team physician from 1997 NBA Finals

“We thought Michael Jordan had altitude sickness”: The Flu Game as revealed by Chicago Bulls’ team physician from 1997 NBA Finals

Akash Murty
|Mon Jun 20 2022

There is no better performer when the stakes are at their highest on the grandest basketball stages of all than Michael Jordan.

His Airness has six Finals MVP awards to show for it. Nothing and I mean players or circumstances or illness, there wasn’t a thing on planet earth that could stop MJ from winning the title once he reached the Finals, since he made it there for the first time in 1991.

He might have had Phil Jackson arguably the best coach and Scottie Pippen, unarguably the greatest 2nd star, to help him do what he did best, but the things he did against all the odds just seem mythical.

One such thing we are talking about was his performance in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals where he played with a flu. Later speculated to be a food poisoning by his trainer Tim Grover.

Also read: “Scottie Pippen played without Michael Jordan in 93-94 and was an MVP candidate”: When the Bulls’ #33 was top contender in both — the MVP and the DPOY race

The famous flu game Michael Jordan might  have been Altitude sickness, the team physician at the time thought so

On June 11, 1997, the Chicago Bulls were in their 5th Finals in 7 years and were tied at 2-2 with Karl Malone and John Stockton’s Utah Jazz. Jordan had flu-like symptoms before the game, and it was out in the media as he didn’t appear healthy enough to play a game.

But what came next added another unforgettable chapter to his legacy with one of the most iconic performances in NBA Finals history. While puking his guts out and taking medications throughout the game Jordan put up 38 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, and a block leading the Bulls to a 90-88 victory.

It is now finally confirmed by the team physician, Dr John Hefferson, what he and the team understood of MJ’s situation at the time.

“I don’t know that he had food poisoning. We thought he might have had altitude sickness.”

Also read: “Guys are making $300-$400 million because of Michael Jordan”: Charles Barkley explains how Bulls legend has changed the game for commercial success for shoes

“Altitude sickness”!? That has a very wrong buzz to it. Let us all remember that game like we are used to for the last 25 years, shall we? The Flu Game.




About the author

Akash Murty

A sports enthusiast, crazy about basketball and football. Like putting forward my opinion on the things I know about, but restrain myself from doing that in my articles because my job is to report. Cover everything Lakers and NBA-related, both old and new.

Read more from Akash Murty