The Michael Jordan anniversaries never stop coming. We've recently reminisced about "the shot over Ehlo" and his shrug-inducing six three-ball first half against the Portland Trail Blazers in the 1992 finals. Monday marks another great moment in MJ's career, maybe even the most iconic: his 38-point effort against the Utah Jazz in Game 5 of the 1997 finals while battling flu-like symptoms.
We have video of Jordan's performance, after the jump...
Context always gets lost in the annals of history, but it's part of what makes "The Flu Game" among Jordan's most legendary feats. We look back on The Dynasty Years now and see those titles as a given; even as I was experiencing this as a Jordan-obsessed child growing up in the 'burbs, championships for MJ's Bulls were always assumed, if not taken for granted. Nine year old dudes don't always understand how hard these things really are. With MJ, none of it was ever in question, even when it certainly should have been.
The Bulls lost Game 3 and Game 4 to Utah in '97 finals after winning the first two. With Jordan clearly fighting a very real illness, Game 5 could have been the turning point. This should have been the best chance the Jazz ever had to upend the Bulls. Instead, Jordan, looking lethargic and physically drained, turned in 38 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, highlighted by a game-clinching go-ahead three-pointer with :25 seconds left.
This is Hollywood stuff, the kind of historic effort that seemed important from the moment it started forming, as evident from the video above when announcer Marv Albert immediately called it one of Jordan's greatest games seconds after the final buzzer sounds. We'll always have the image of Jordan collapsing into Scottie Pippen's arms, barely able to walk after carrying his team to victory and putting the Bulls a game away from their fifth title.
It happened 15 years ago today. Embrace it.