When you talk about the all-time great Michael Jordan performances The Flu Game is bound to come up in the discussion. It was one of those moments that threatened to expose a chink in his armor, threatened to break the illusion and prove to us that His Airness was human after all. As it turned out, he’s not. On June 11th 1997, fifteen years ago today, the Chicago Bulls were tied up in the NBA Finals with the Utah Jazz and forced to face the tough, Karl Malone equipped squad at home. To make matters worse their most versatile weapon, MJ himself, was struck with non-stop nausea and intense bouts of sweating the day prior to the match-up, with his trainers insisting that he had to take the next day off. Refusing to let his team battle without him Jordan suited up anyway, with his abilities waxing (17 points in the second quarter) and waning (Utah takes an 8 points lead at the end of the third) due to his physical illness. In the 4th quarter though Michael turned it on, playing through the pain to light up the Jazz with 15 points in the period, enough to send his team to a victory and him collapsing into Scottie Pippen’s arms as per the iconic image shown above.
Of course the sneaker history of that magical moment was not lost, and the black and red Air Jordan XII colorway MJ wore in the Flu Game performance has since been retrod to spin the tale for a new generation. The 2009 version switched out the full grain leather for some nubuck up top and also slipped in some details alluding to the game, among them the flu-faced smiley and the numbers 97 and 38 (the number of points he earned that night) inscribed along the side. Click through for some vintage photos from Michael Jordan’s epic Flu Game performance back in 1997 as well as a video recap and let us know where this ranks as far as all-time MJ moments. Photos: Sneaker News