Don’t Blame the Pizza

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Utah Pizza Man Recollects the Night Before Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals

The flu game remains one of the most iconic moments in sports.

According to Michael Jordan himself, the former Chicago Bulls superstar was dealing with food poisoning, stemming from a pizza he ordered the night before Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals in Utah. The visibly ill Jordan was still able to play, scoring 38 points in the win.

The pizza story of course, was an interesting one and one that seems open for interpretation.

“Five guys delivering one pizza?” Tim Grover, Jordan’s personal trainer, said of the night back in June of 1997. “They’re all trying to look in. I take the pizza. I pay them. I put this pizza down. I say, ‘I’ve got a bad feeling about this pizza.’”

On The Last Dance, Jordan recounted what happened that night as well.

“I ate the pizza,” Jordan said. “All by myself. Nobody else ate the pizza. I wake up about 2:30 throwing up left and right … It really wasn’t the flu game. It was food poisoning.”

Incredibly, the man who made the pizza for Jordan on that faithful night, Craig Fite, refuted Jordan and Grover’s story during an appearance on “The Big Show” on 1280 The Zone in Salt Lake City. Fite was working as the assistant manager of Pizza Hut at the time and noted that he was a huge fan of Jordan. He made it clear that he was the one who made the pizza and delivered it to The Marriott – the hotel at which the Bulls were staying.

“That’s a bunch of crap,” Fite said. “Sorry, we were five creepy looking guys that the guy felt threatened? I guess you have to sell your book but it really wasn’t that exciting. There were two of us. I didn’t even have that many people working [at the Pizza Hut].

Fite said that Grover met him at the door when he arrived.

“‘Hey, can I at least say hi to Mike?’” Fite remembers asking. “I mean, why not? It’s my one shot. The door kind of opens up a little more. Mike is sitting at the chair, he’s playing cards or whatever, raises his hand and says, ‘Thanks man.’ The guy looks at me and shuts the door.”

We may never truly know what really happened on the night before Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals, but no matter what, Jordan was still able to put together a performance unlike any other while battling his illness.

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