There's a new Michael Jordan 'flu game' conspiracy, and it doesn't involve pizza

Chris Cwik
·2 min read

We already know Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan didn’t have the flu during the “flu game,” but what if pizza wasn’t at the center of the issue either? Sam Smith, author of “The Jordan Rules,” has another theory regarding why Jordan was sick during Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals.

Smith believes Jordan was suffering from altitude sickness. Smith made those comments while appearing on “The Dan Patrick Show” on Friday. Smith — who was featured heavily during “The Last Dance” — says Jordan was traveling between Park City and Salt Lake City while in Utah. Smith believes the change in elevation caused Jordan to have altitude sickness. Park City is in the mountains, and has an elevation of 7,000. Salt Lake City’s elevation is 4,226.

Did Michael Jordan have altitude sickness during the flu game?

Jordan’s known symptoms could have been consistent with altitude sickness. According to WebMD, the mildest form of altitude sickness is similar to a hangover. Symptoms can include dizziness, headaches and nausea. Those who believe Jordan is lying about the “flu game” often suggest Jordan was actually hungover. Perhaps he just had altitude sickness?

Why would Michael Jordan lie about having food poisoning?

Smith believes Jordan’s masculinity played a role in the food poisoning story. According to Smith, Jordan may have viewed altitude sickness as being “less manly.” Having the flu — or food poisoning — sounds like a more serious ailment. Maybe Jordan believes the “flu game” would lose some of its luster if Jordan revealed he actually had altitude sickness?

The “manly” excuse could be plausible. Throughout “The Last Dance,” Jordan was built up as a tenacious, win-at-all-costs type player who would do anything — even if it meant relentlessly bullying his teammates — to win games. Jordan cared a lot about other players’ physical and mental weaknesses, and may have perceived getting altitude sickness as a weakness.

Something doesn’t add up about Michael Jordan’s story

Dan Patrick quickly points out something about Jordan’s story doesn’t add up. For years, people have been content to accept Jordan was suffering from the flu that night in Utah. Sure, there were rumors that it wasn’t really the flu, but the legend had become generally accepted at this point.

Why did Jordan decide to alter the story over 20 years later? His food poisoning admission has only thrown more scrutiny on what really happened before Game 5 of the 1997 Finals. Jordan didn’t have to open that door, but he did.

Now, a whole new generation is trying to figure out whether Jordan is telling the truth about the “flu game.”

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