The Scottie Pippen-Michael Jordan beef has become relevant again this week, as Pippen came out with some new controversial statements in which he bashed his former teammate. From calling him egotistical and condescending, revealing how he and his teammates received no money for their part in "The Last Dance" documentary to denying there was any friendship between the two Hall-of-Famers. But it seems Pippen is not done yet, as he decided to share his view on the "Flu Game" and share how him playing with a bad back was much harder.
The legendary "Flu Game"
The story of the "Flu Game" is legendary in the NBA world, and with good reason. Playing with flu-like symptoms, although it was more realistically a stomach virus, in a crucial Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals was the biggest challenge of Jordan's career, as he himself said it was the hardest thing he ever had to do.
But battling against a great Utah Jazz team, there was no chance Jordan sat out the game, especially considering it was tied at 2-2. Although MJ struggled to start the game and showed obvious signs of fatigue, he picked it up in the second half. In a way only he could, Michael took over the game and led the Bulls to the huge victory, notching 38 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, and 1 block.
And to cap it off, the iconic scene of Scottie basically carrying MJ out of the court, like two brothers arm in arm. Who could have imagined back then, this is where their relationship would be nowadays?
The unsung heroics of Scottie Pippen
Almost every NBA fan knows about the "Flu Game." But what happened next year in the Finals rematch is relatively overlooked. The Bulls and the Jazz engaged in another tough battle, but it was Scottie Pippen dealing with health issues this time. The wear and tear of numerous championship runs started to affect the Bulls, and especially Pippen, who was dealing with multiple injuries. But the worst of them was immense back pain.
But the Bulls managed to somehow scrap to a 3-2 lead, with a chance to close it out in Utah. Jordan was healthy and ready, but Scottie was playing under injections and giving it his all to even stay on the floor. Pippen managed to play a decent amount of time but served more as a decoy while Jordan carried the Bulls to their 6th championship. Pippen eventually finished the game with only 8 points, while Jordan had 45. But it was enough to put Chicago over the top, as Pippen's presence on the court meant a lot to them, even without him contributing too much.
Scottie compares his back-pain game to the "Flu Game"
Well, nowadays, 20+ years after these events happened, Pippen has decided to share his thoughts on it and continue his critical rants towards Michael. In an interview with SiriusXM NBA Radio, Scottie compared his back-pain game to MJ's "Flu Game" and shared how he feels his feat was much more impressive, even though it gets far less attention than Jordan's game:
"I wouldn't have played in Game 7; I just wasn't able to go. I knew on Saturday I probably had one game left in me...I'm going to ask you this. Is it easier to play with a herniated disc or to play with the flu? Well, I don't see many bad-back games, but I do see flu games. Flu. Come on."
"I don't see many bad-back games, but I do see flu games." @ScottiePippen compares his back injury against the Jazz to Michael Jordan's infamous "Flu Game." Hear more on @SiriusXMNBA. https://t.co/vZSAKED5NRpic.twitter.com/65Q21Dgig2
— SiriusXM (@SIRIUSXM) November 9, 2021
">SiriusXM NBA Radio
Pippen makes a fair point. Back injuries are some of the worst injuries to deal with in sports, as they vastly limit your movement. Playing under such pain was admirable from Pippen, as he definitely didn't get enough praise for toughing it out for the team's sake.
But come on now, Scottie. There are levels to this. Sure playing under back pain is much harder than playing under the flu. But you scored 8 points and served as a decoy, while Jordan led the Bulls to the win. On the other side, Jordan had a monster stat-line in his game and still served as the #1 guy even under the flu. That is why it's got more recognition.
Nevertheless, both of these games were impressive and need to be appreciated, as Scottie and Michael really need to get all the praise possible for giving it their all and playing despite their problems. I just don't think there is no need to minimize each other in order to get your shine. But unfortunately, that is precisely what Scottie has been doing lately at the expense of Michael Jordan. Just a sad denouement of a relationship between one of the best duos in NBA history.