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Michael Jordan left an NBA Finals game due to cramps, too

Jun 6, 2014, 11:22 AM EDT


Michael Jordan had the flu game.

LeBron James had the cramp game.

In Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals, Jordan scored 38 points while battling a 103-degree fever in the Chicago Bulls’ win over the Utah Jazz.

In Game 1 of the 2014 NBA Finals, LeBron left in the forth quarter due to cramps in the Miami Heat’s loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

Want to use the difference in production and outcome to hammer LeBron and praise Jordan? I guess that’s your prerogative, though it seems silly to equate two very different health concerns.

But if you’re going to use Jordan’s flu game to bash LeBron, let’s talk about Game 4 of the 1997 NBA Finals.

Roland Lazenby’s “Michael Jordan: The Life” (hat tip: Bill Barnwell of Grantland):

It would later be learned that a Bulls team assistant had mistakenly replaced the players’ Gatorade with GatorLode, a heavy drink used for building carbs. “It was like eating baked potatoes,” explained trainer Chip Schaeffer. Down the stretch, Chicago’s players complained of stomach cramps and Jordan even asked to sit for a time, something he never did at a key moment.

Circumstances out of the players’ control? Check.

Cramping? Check.

Asking out of an NBA Finals game? Check.

Just as LeBron couldn’t do anything about the lack of air conditioning in San Antonio, Jordan couldn’t control for the team team assistant. The results and effect were the same.

Was Jordan mentally tougher than LeBron? Probably. Jordan is likely the fiercest competitor in NBA history.

But cramps can temporarily debilitate even those whose will to win is unquestioned.

  1. phila68 - Jun 6, 2014 at 6:56 PM

    He finished the game!

  2. cruth1k - Jun 6, 2014 at 8:26 PM

    False. According to MJ the “flu game” and “gatorload” game were the same game. He says so in the book For the Love of the Game. They were trying to hydrate him at halftime when the trainers mistakenly gave him gatorload to make his condition worse. Its a moot point I’m just saying

  3. antistratfordian - Jun 6, 2014 at 9:03 PM

    “Was Jordan mentally tougher than LeBron? Probably. Jordan is likely the fiercest competitor in NBA history.”

    This is another myth. If MJ was mentally tougher than LeBron he would’ve never started thinking about retirement in 1992 because the pressure of the spotlight was becoming too intense. The level of pressure and scrutiny that LeBron has had to play through for over a decade has reached levels that MJ couldn’t even imagine – and James just blasts right through that and keeps going. Unlike MJ, LBJ isn’t running from it because needs a break.

    • nahtiss - Jun 7, 2014 at 10:07 PM

      negative homie, Jordan retired in 93 or 94 and it was because his father was just murdered a few months before. He already 3 peated once and was at the top of his game. The spotlight had nothing to do with it, in fact the reason he retired from basketball and pursued baseball was because that was his dad’s dream for him. educate yourself before you speak out about one of the all time greatest players to touch a basketball.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 8, 2014 at 8:15 PM

        This is a common misperception about MJ’s first retirement.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 8, 2014 at 8:16 PM

        It sticks because it holds the myths together…

      • antistratfordian - Jun 8, 2014 at 8:18 PM

        You know what. This site won’t let me post my full reply so I’ll just link it from my blog…. one minute…

      • antistratfordian - Jun 8, 2014 at 8:23 PM

        Here is my reply:

  4. briangraydon - Jun 6, 2014 at 10:29 PM

    Queen James can take some Midol.

  5. lawson1974 - Jun 7, 2014 at 12:33 AM

    I wish the author said exactly how long ” a time” is.

  6. gmsingh123 - Jun 7, 2014 at 8:50 AM

    I remember back in the 70s John McEnroe played a Davis Cup match in South America where the temp was over 110 degrees. The match lasted over 9 hours. And LeBron couldn’t make it through a basketball game? What, he couldn’t afford to eat half a dozen bananas that day for the potassium? There is no excuse.

  7. baller10225 - Jun 8, 2014 at 3:20 AM

    OMG OMG!!! People talk about Lebron haters.. but Lebron Lovers are the WORST!!! Such an embarrassing article. You could only compare the 2 situations if: ALL THE PLAYERS AND COACHES drank the same bad medicine that Jordan took. AND THEN.. Jordan was the only person on the floor to b!tch out.. THEN it would be comparable. Get it???

  8. condor75 - Jun 8, 2014 at 3:50 PM

    I bet big money, every comment here is written from an air-conditioned room with guys who only sweat taking a dump, shut up already

  9. mrbiz8505 - Jun 11, 2014 at 10:49 AM

    But they didn’t have to carry him off the court like a pregnant woman….

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