Michael Jordan claimed his infamous Flu Game wasn't a Flu Game at all but rather a Food Poisoning Game. The editorial gatekeeper of the popular hagiographical film series The Last Dance signed off on releasing a somewhat confounding explanation for what happened the night before Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals.
Jordan recalled hanging out in his hotel room with his trainer Tim Grover and personal assistant George Koehler. The quest to find food was difficult because of the late hour and relative sleepiness of Salt Lake City but they got an unnamed pizza joint to deliver.
The story, as it was told, is that a whole cadre of dubious-looking employees showed up to hand off said pie and suspicions were raised. Despite this, Jordan tore into the pizza, eating the whole thing himself. Violent illness followed, which of course did not stop him from scoring 38 points and ripping the heart out of the Utah Jazz the following evening.
It's tough to wrap one's mind around the idea of one of the richest people on the planet bogarting all the pizza for himself but perhaps easier to do so with the realization that Jordan is, on many levels, an absolute maniac.
Director Jason Hehir, appearing on ESPN's wrap-up show with Jalen Rose and David Jacoby last night, revealed that MJ took extraordinary measures to ensure he didn't have to share any of his food.
"Earlier that night those guys all ate dinner and didn't wait for Michael when they ordered," Hehir relayed. "So it gets to be about 10-11 o'clock and Michael is starving and says 'I want a pizza.' When the pizza shows up, Michael says, 'everybody, do not touch this pizza, this is mine. You didn't wait for me, don't touch this.' So he spits on the pizza."
Desperate times call for desperate measures, right? Or not?
If you're thinking that this was probably only a one-time thing, a momentarily slip into insanity, well, think again. Apparently this, like a fadeaway jumper, is one of Jordan's go-to moves.
"It's not the only time, you can look up, that Michael would spit on food if he didn't want people to eat it," Hehir added.
Cursory research backs him up. Writing for Outside the Lines in 2013, the great Wright Thompson included this nugget:
"Back when they used to shoot a lot of commercials, Jordan's security team would wait for him in his trailer while he was on set. A woman named Linda cooked Michael's meals, and he loved cinnamon rolls. She'd bake a tray and bring it to him. When it came time to film, he'd see the guards eyeing the cinnamon rolls and he'd walk over and spit on each one, to make sure nobody took his food."
These revelations are extremely harrowing in the time of COVID-19 to be sure. But in case you've forgotten the precedented times, it was always super-weird to do something like this. Just pure friendless kid in the corner of a middle-school lunchroom stuff. The type of thing that should earn a person a spot on a watchlist.
Anyway. This tale serves as an embodiment of the Jordan experience. Singularly selfish to a fault yet able to overcome all and feast on the fuel of slights both real or imagined.
Knowing what we know now, it must have been incredibly hard for him not to join in during this Space Jam scene, which takes on a deeper meaning going forward.