So Hard To Be Like Mike
Anecdote • Basketball
By Will Galang
Whenever I remember the so-called “Flu Game” of Michael Jordan, it always makes me mightily cringe for a couple of reasons. First, Jordan and the Chicago Bulls beat my Utah Jazz in the NBA Finals. Twice. Consecutive seasons. To this day, those Finals losses still sting for a fan like me and Jordan was largely responsible for those back-to-back heartbreaks. Second, I really don’t understand how Jordan could perform so great on the hardwood floor even if he was down with the flu. There he was, in all his stricken state, pouring 38 points against a championship-hungry Jazz. The series was tied 2-2 and Utah was playing in their home court. I recall how confident I felt watching that game on TV, knowing that John Stockton, Karl Malone, and the rest of the crew won’t let this decisive Game 5 slip away. Not on their turf.
But they will be denied by someone who wanted this game even more, someone who was not even 100% physically, but still managed to give more than 100% of his all to pull the rug under Stockton and company, making the right clutch plays in the end, hitting the crucial shots when the Bulls needed it the most. This all happened 20 years ago but it feels like this nightmare happened yesterday whenever this incident crosses my mind.
So what triggered the recollection? I’m feeling under the weather again. And I was just hit by the flu a couple of months ago. And when I’m sick like that, I couldn’t even function normally. I felt so sick all I wanted to do was sleep but my terrible condition wouldn’t even let me doze off. It’s so terribly difficult to move, what with every part of my body throbbing with pain, burning with high fever, it doesn’t even feel comfortable to lie in bed. I felt so weak, so useless.
Then Jordan started dancing in my head, vivid images of his fluid motion of driving to the basket and craftily pulling up for a fadeaway, the ball ripping the nets so clean every single time. And I wonder how he does it. He’s flu-stricken and he’s winning vital games in a championship series. I’m flu-stricken and I couldnt even get out of bed to go to work, a desk job at that. I have always respected Jordan, but I never rooted for him and his Bulls all those times he played there. But whenever I’m afflicted with influenza and the Flu Game comes to mind, those were times that I always cry, “I wanna be like Mike!”