Fifteen years ago this evening*, Michael Jordan stood in Utah tied 2-2 in a pivotal Game 5 against Karl Malone, Karl Malone’s MVP award which should’ve gone to Mike, John Stockton and the very real possibility of being one loss away from his first Finals defeat. Then, between June 8 and June 11, Mike became sick; so ill his status for Game 5 was in jeopardy with “flu-like symptoms.” What happened next – 38 points, seven rebounds, five assists, three steals and one kick ass Gatorade commercial – has been documented as a valiant performance only helping to cement Jordan’s GOAT status.
Then there’s the game and how it affect a random kid from Virginia. Gather around the campfire for three short stories. One of family, one of a stupid decision and one wondering if Mike had too much sauce the night before.
1. My grandma and I always watched Bulls games together. From stories she’s since told me in years after MJ’s Chicago years, she first became a fan because of me, but then later because she began to appreciate the game of basketball. Well, that and she loved Dennis Rodman. We watched Game 5 of the ’97 Finals together and the entire day she was telling me, “I don’t know, Justin. This doesn’t look good. He may not make it through the entire game.” There were even points during the game when Mike’s face was shown with the look he was damn near about to pass out. All she could say was, “Poor baby. Just keep trying.” Now that I look back on it, she was a nervous wreck. Hell, we both were. When the game was over, all she could say was, “Get that baby some soup and some Ginger Ale.” I love that woman.