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Michael Jordan's Famous "Flu Game" Game 5 1997 NBA Finals

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Published on Aug 18, 2010

Game 5, often referred to as "The Flu Game", was one of Michael Jordan's most memorable. On Tuesday, Jordan woke up nauseated and sweating profusely. He hardly had the strength to sit up in bed and was diagnosed with a stomach virus or food poisoning. The Bulls trainers told Jordan that there was no way he could play the next day. The Jazz had just won two in a row to tie the series, and Chicago needed their leader in this crucial swing game. In the NBA Finals best of seven games format, that Game 5 was critical, since the winner would be just one game away from the NBA Title. Against all odds, Jordan rose from bed at 3:00 p.m., just in time for the 6:00 tip-off at the Delta Center. Jordan was visibly weak and pale as he stepped onto the court for Game Five. At first, he displayed no energy whatsoever, and John Stockton, along with reigning MVP Karl Malone, quickly led the Jazz to a 16-point lead. But in the second quarter, Jordan started to sink shots despite lacking his usual explosive speed and hardly being able to concentrate. He scored 17 points in the quarter as the Bulls hit the front with a furious rally before halftime. The Jazz, however, reclaimed their lead and pushed it to 8 points early in the fourth quarter. But the Bulls went on a 10-0 run to take the lead again and the game would remain tight the rest of the way. Luc Longley and Scottie Pippen did their best to keep the Bulls in the game while Jordan was fatigued again in the third. But Jordan turned it on again, scoring 15 points in the fourth quarter. With less than a minute to go he was at the free throw line; he made the first but missed the second. Toni Kukoc tapped the offensive rebound to Pippen who passed to Jordan and he swished a three-point shot to put the Bulls up by three points with less than 30 seconds left. Chicago then withstood a late Utah push and held on for a narrow victory when John Stockton missed the first of two free throws in front of the stunned crowd with an exhausted, dripping and sweat-soaked Jordan briefly throwing two fists into the air as the buzzer sounded. Jordan talking to the media after the game quoted "we wanted it real bad."

Jordan finished the game with 38 points including an impressive putback dunk, seven rebounds, five assists, three steals and one block. Malone was the highest-scoring Jazz player with 19 points but suffered from some dreadful shooting, throwing up an off balance airball on the possession prior to Jordan's big 3. Malone would finish the second half 1 for 6 from the field. Jordan stayed on the court for 44 minutes, resting for only four minutes while being perpetually at the brink of fainting. With only a few seconds remaining and the game finally in hand, Jordan collapsed into Scottie Pippen's arms.

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