The whole controversy around "the flu game" – from now on, referred to as "the pizza game," prompted a series of theories on what was really behind one of Jordan's most iconic performances. One Reddit post, in particular, offered a great overview, and that motivated me to dig a bit deeper and figure out what was likely, and what wasn't.
Firstly, new pieces of information have emerged regarding the whole poisoned pizza thing. The guy who allegedly delivered the pizza to Jordan's room was interviewed by Colin Cowherd, basically saying that it didn't happen the way they presented it in the documentary.
“I worked at Park City, Utah, for Pizza Hut. We were 5 minutes from their hotel. The Bulls would usually order a large number of pizzas, generally during the day time. The driver picked up the phone and waved at me because he knew I was a Bulls fan and said he thought it was the Bulls from the hotel. We didn't know who the pizza was for. And I even made a joke about me having to take care of the pizza because everyone else was Jazz fans and I worried they were going to do something to it. So I made it and took it to the hotel along with the driver, hoping to meet some of the Bulls. After they announced Michael got sick, I remember getting a call from a guy at work, thanking me for trying to get Michael sick so the Jazz could win. I was like 'no way; I didn't do it.'”
Craig Fite, The Herd
The delivery guy refuted the way the story was represented by Jordan and his people, putting the whole poisoned pizza narrative to bed. It will be interesting to see if any new information about the situation occurs, with new people shedding light on the story.
Guys like Jalen Rose were speculating for years that it was a “hangover game.” Jordan's lifestyle supported the theory. By their words, Jordan was actually in Vegas the night before their game vs. the Utah Jazz. MJ used to say that he loved staying in Utah because it was only a 45 minutes flight to Vegas, which gave some credibility to the theory. They are saying that Jordan partied a little too hard, and it took a toll on his body.
Those who don't believe it to be about Jordan's road trip to Vegas have different explanations. Steve Kerr went on record saying it was actually "the elevation game" as a result of high altitude. Park City is at 7000 feet elevation, and Kerr is saying Jordan got a form of altitude sickness, having usual symptoms of nausea, fatigue, low oxygen, etc. People are skeptical about Kerr's theory, saying that it wasn't their first time visiting Utah and having enough time to adjust. However, if Jordan did fly out to Vegas, altitude sickness makes some sense and. It may have been a combination of both.
Other than these hypotheticals that have some credibility, what's been neglected is Jordan's life habits and diet. Jordan had your typical top-tier athlete sleeping pattern – around four hours of sleep each night. Combining that with smoking and drinking, plus the inanition from brutal NBA schedule, at some time, your body will show a negative reaction.
What adds some fire to the theory is Michael's diet. His trainer Tim Grover shared all details of MJ's day on a plate. Jordan's daily goal was to have five to six frequent but small meals made up of 70 percent carbs, 20 percent fats, and 10 percent proteins. “Michael is not a big eater,” said Grover. “He only eats when he's hungry and only until he feels comfortable rather than full.”
Whether any of theories mentioned have some truth behind them, and whether they are convincing or not, one thing is for sure: take any top-tier athlete who takes care of what they eat, and make them pound a late-night pepperoni pizza, it's not hard to assume that there will be repercussions for some.
That may have been the case for Jordan, the culmination of his bad habits, combined with late-night junk food. Then it wouldn't be about poisoned pizza, but just about poor timing.