The recent miniseries The Last Dance follows the Chicago Bulls’ 1997-98 basketball season, focusing on iconic Bulls teammate Michael Jordan. Though this documentary-style miniseries uncovers a plethora of previously unknown information about the Bulls, it shrouds one circumstance in a veil of mystery: was Jordan’s infamous “flu game” actually a result of intentional food poisoning?
Whether or not Jordan was deliberately poisoned, the basketball game he played the following night is infamous. Despite spending the previous hours vomiting just to get out of bed a mere hour before the game, Jordan still scored 38 points to help his team secure the win. There is no proof that his illness wasn’t a simple virus or accidental food poisoning, but there are certainly signs pointing to a calculated ploy of pizza poisoning.
Watch a highlight reel of Jordan’s performance during the “flu game” below.
According to Yahoo Sports, Craig Fite, who was reportedly a committed Bulls and Michael Jordan fan, was the Park City Pizza Hut assistant manager that fateful night. Noticing that the pizza was ordered for the Marriott, where the Bulls were staying for their game, Fite said he made the pizza himself in case it was for a Bulls team member.
It seems illogical for a Bulls fan to deliberately try to sabotage a team member the night before a championship game. And according to Fite’s statements, he took extra care with the particular pizza that ended up with Jordan.
Despite Fite’s adamant claims that the pizza was not intentionally poisoned, there are some shady details about the delivery.
First of all, as Fite mentioned, he knew that the Bulls were staying at the Marriott and that the pizza may have been ordered by one of the team members. Although he claims to support the Bulls, this detail does create a plausible circumstance for sabotage.
On top of this, the details of the delivery are murky. According to Fite, he was accompanied only by his delivery driver to deliver Jordan’s pizza. But according to Tim Grover, Jordan’s personal trainer, five delivery men showed up to bring the pizza, and they seemed to huddle around the doorway to catch a glimpse of the basketball legend.
The tweet below includes a clip of Jordan and his team recounting that night.
Another interesting circumstance surrounding the pizza is the fact that only Jordan ate it. Apparently, he spit on the pizza to claim it as his own and make sure no one else ate it. But since this prevented anyone else from eating the same pizza, it prevented anyone else from developing symptoms to back up the theory that Jordan had food poisoning.
The technicalities of the pepperoni pizza Jordan ordered and his sickness just hours later definitely tell a convoluted story. It is unclear whether Michael Jordan experienced the symptoms of a stomach virus or intentional food poisoning during that championship game on June 11, 1997. Unintentional food poisoning is also a perfectly plausible explanation, along with posited hangover theories.
But what is undeniable is that Jordan’s resulting performance, after spending the previous hours vomiting, was certainly legendary.
Read about the new documentaries ESPN announced to follow The Last Dance here.