If you’ve been a basketball fan or even a sneaker fanatic / sneakerhead sure you are familiar with the name “Flu Game”, it was Game 5 of the 1997 NBA finals in Utah (11 June 1997), which saw Michael Jordan having the flu-like symptoms during the match.
It was a moment for the sports history books and one that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.
Despite fighting flu symptoms, Jordan played 44 of a possible 48 minutes and scored 38 points as the Bulls defeated the Jazz 90-88 to take a 3-2 lead in the series.
Jordan’s trainer Tim Grover explained (to TrueHoop TV) on what really went down:
We were in Park City, Utah, up in a hotel.
Room service stopped at like nine o’clock. He got hungry and we really couldn’t find any other place to eat. So we said eh, the only thing I can find is a pizza place. So we says all right, order pizza.
We had been there for a while. Everybody knew what hotel. Park City was not many hotels back then.
So everyone kind of knew where we were staying.
So we order pizza.
Five guys came to deliver this pizza.
I take the pizza and I tell them: “I’ve got a bad feeling about this. … I’ve just got a bad feeling about this.”
Out of everybody in the room, [MJ] was the only one who ate. Nobody else had it.
And then 2 o’clock in the morning I get a call to my room. Come to the room. He’s curled up in the fetal position. We’re looking at him, finding the team physician at that time.
Immediately I told him it’s food poisoning.
Not the flu.
Now Let’s talk about the Air Jordan 12…
The Air Jordan 12 that Michael Jordan wore on that day was later nicknamed “Flu Game” hence to this date the sneaker is considered one of the most iconic sneakers of all time.
Another exciting story about the Air Jordan 12 “Flu Game” is how a former Utah Jazz ball boy Preston Truman got hold of the shoes (MJ wore during the game) and sold them for $104,765 at an auction.
Truman was able to secure the shoes, after developing a relationship with Jordan, which started when he says he one day fetched Jordan’s traditional pregame applesauce during the 1996-97 season.
When Jordan came back to Utah for the Finals that year, Truman says he brought Jordan applesauce even though Jordan wasn’t in an eating mood. While Jordan was said to be suffering flu-like symptoms, Jordan’s trainer Tim Grover said years later that he was sure it was from food poisoning from a pizza Jordan ate the night before.
After the game, which put the Bulls up 3-2 and one game from winning their fifth title, Jordan gave Truman his shoes from the game.
Truman had kept the size 13 shoes in a safety deposit box for 16 years, telling ESPN that he went years without giving them a thought or even looking at them, which is why he didn’t have a hard time saying goodbye.
Jordan Brand released the retro version of the Air Jordan 12 “Flu Game” in 2003, while the sneaker was also re-released in 2009, although the 2009 edition did not match the OG construction due to its nubuck upper.
And good news for this year, is that the Air Jordan 12 “Flu Game” remastered retro edition will be releasing in just few weeks and will be available at local retailers on Saturday, 28 May 2016.