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Famed documentary producer Ken Burns expressed misgivings about The Last Dance, citing the relationship between Michael Jordan and the production company as a conflict of interest that damaged the project’s credibility.

But did ESPN perhaps overreact to the criticism by somehow recruiting famed director and conspiracy theorist Oliver Stone to produce an episode of the 10-part look at the Chicago Bulls dynasty?

‘The flu game’ is now officially Michael Jordan’s ‘pizza game’

Episode 9 of The Last Dance, ESPN’s groundbreaking examination of the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls dynasty, brought the legendary story of “the flu game” back into the spotlight Sunday – and Twitter went out of its mind because of it.

The narrative for more than two decades has been that Jordan played out of his mind in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA finals despite battling the flu. But now the story has officially shifted to Jordan blaming food poisoning from tainted late-night pizza as the actual cause.

Jordan and others interviewed for the segment said the food was delivered by five individuals from the only Salt Lake City restaurant they were able to find open at the time.

It led to this contender for Tweet of the Year by the maker of a popular brand of frozen pizza, playing off its well-known marketing campaign:

If that’s what happened, then the story becomes even more legendary

Version 1.01 of “the flu game” suggests without outright asserting it that the restaurant providing the pizza intentionally made Michael Jordan sick. Jordan said he woke up at 2:30 a.m. vomiting “left and right.”

Somehow, Jordan was able to answer the bell at tip-off and went on to post 38 points and seven rebounds as Chicago won Game 5, 90-88. The Bulls went on to close out the series two nights later with a 90-86 victory in Chicago.

It all makes for a great story, though Twitter expressed some uncertainty as to the identity of the delivery man or men:

There’s skepticism about this Michael Jordan story

There are obvious questions about the circumstances around Michael Jordan’s illness on the day of Game 5 in Utah. For starters, if five people showed up to deliver the pizza, then four of them would seemingly have been fanboys and gawkers who knew the pizza was being delivered to the Chicago Bulls’ hotel.

Did the team not take precautions to hide their players’ identities? Was there not a go-fer that could have been sent out to pick up the pizza to avoid giving away the destination? And why was Jordan the only guy eating pizza (and getting sick) when there were other people in the room?

And then there’s this from the Twittersphere:

‘The Last Dance’ director answers one question

After The Last Dance concluded Sunday, director Jason Hehir revealed that he was told in interviews he conducted that the reason only Michael Jordan ate the pizza is that the Hall of Fame guard split on it to claim it as his own, Yahoo reported.

Based on what we’ve learned about one of the greatest players in NBA history over the years and through The Last Dance, that sadly seems plausible because of a unique blend of pettiness and jerkish behavior by a man known to hold a grudge.

We’ll let Twitter have the last word.


Michael Jordan’s Best NBA Finals Performance Wasn’t the ‘Flu Game’