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YouTube Gold: Michael Jordan’s Flu Game

Twenty six years ago, Jordan set a standard for courage and heart that may have been matched but never surpassed.

1997 NBA Finals Game Five: Chicago Bulls v Utah Jazz
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - JUNE 11: Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls rests during Game Five of the 1997 NBA Finals played against the Utah Jazz on June 11, 1997 at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Chicago Bulls defeated the Utah Jazz 90-88.
Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Michael Jordan did many extraordinary things as a basketball player, starting with hitting the winning shot when he was a UNC freshman to give the Tar Heels the 1982 NCAA title over Patrick Ewing and Georgetown.

You could go down the list and pick any number of things, but perhaps the most defining moment of Jordan’s career was the so-called flu game.

In 1997, the Chicago Bulls were back in the Finals against the Utah Jazz and were tied 2-2 with Game 5 to be played in Salt Lake City.

But there was a snag: although it is called the Flu Game, Jordan actually had food poisoning.

Whatever it was, it was just something else for Jordan to overcome. And he did.

After becoming terribly ill at 2:00 a.m. the morning of the game, the Bulls didn't think Jordan could possibly play, and at first he was listless. But Jordan’s greatest asset wasn’t his superb athleticism; it was his nearly pathological competitive drive.

So needless to say, he came through and at the end, he simply collapsed into Scottie Pippen’s arms, totally drained.

It remains one of the most iconic images in the history of the game.