Michael Jordan, the “Flu Game”, Rationalization, and Sleeping Well


“It is one thing to study war
and another to live the warrior’s life.”

~ Telamon of Arcadia,
mercenary of the fifth century B.C.

Some of you may remember the 1997 NBA Finals The Flu Game
between the Chicago Bulls and the Utah Jazz. More specifically, Game 5 of the Finals.

Having lived in Chicago a good portion of my life, I remember it well.

In fact, it was one of the most memorable games in NBA history.

Jordan awoke on Tuesday nauseated and sweating profusely. He hardly had the strength to sit up in bed and was diagnosed with a stomach virus or food poisoning of some sort. Jordan was told by the trainers that he could not play Game 5 the next day (on Wednesday).

The problem was that the Jazz had just won two games in a row to tie the series, and Game 5 would be crucial. In the NBA Finals best of seven format, Game 5’s are important since the winner is just one win away from being crowned champion.

Against the odds, Jordan rose from bed at 3:00 p.m., just in time for the 6:00 tip-off at the Delta Center. Jordan was visibly weak as he stepped onto the court for the start of the game.

But, the point is, Jordan showed up.

Early on he displayed no energy at all, and John Stockton, along with Karl Malone, quickly led the Jazz to a 16-point lead.

Despite being slowed, Jordan started to sink shots in the second quarter. He scored 17 points in the quarter as the Bulls took a small lead.

Jordan dug deep…

Early in the 4th quarter the Jazz had reclaimed their lead and pushed it to 8 points. Jordan dug deep and turned it on once again. Scoring 15 points in the fourth quarter.

After tying the game with a free throw, Jordan missed his second free throw.

The Bulls got the rebound with under a minute left in the game. Scottie Pippen passed the ball back to Michael Jeffrey Jordan who swished a three-pointer to give the Bulls the lead and the win as Utah failed to score again.

With a few seconds remaining and the game in hand Jordan collapsed into Scottie Pippen’s arms. His mission was complete.

Michael did not have to convince his body to perform. He had to convince his mind. His body then did precisely what he told it to do.

Jordan negotiated 38 points out of his body that night.

I would surmise that he would have negotiated 40 if his team needed it. Maybe even 50.

I’m guessing he slept well that night.

How about you?

Are you sleeping well my friend?

When is the last time you left it all on the court?

I’m not talking about just saying that you left it all on the court. I’m talking about actually leaving it all on the court.

The truth is folks that one of the easiest methods we offer ourselves is rationalization. We may talk about those things that will make a difference if we do them.

But, are we doing them?

Or, are we rationalizing on why they can’t be done?

Is our day being spent doing ‘busy work’ or ‘the work’ that matters?

The work that will fulfill us.

That work that will have us sleeping peacefully.

Another truth is that you know the difference between the two.

So do I.

But, you want to hear something peculiar?

We can fool a lot of folks into thinking that we’re living it loud.

We can dance around and draw attention to ourselves.

We can get our pats on the back.

But only we know whether we are delivering or not. Living out our true potential.

We know.

My charge to you is to do that thing that will fulfill.

Lose yourself in ‘the work’.

Make this time in your life be ‘the time’.

Leave it all on the court and sleep well tonight my friend.

Sleep well.

After all, you are the only you, you have.

Live it LOUD!


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16 Responses to Michael Jordan, the “Flu Game”, Rationalization, and Sleeping Well

  1. Eugene says:

    Rob, I think you just got to the bottom of my sleeping problems (seriously).

    “Jordan negotiated 38 points out of his body that night.” …that he did. I remember that game. It was one of those sports moments that will live on til the end of time.

    • Rob says:

      Press-On Brother,

      I know the feeling. The thing is we all know the feeling. How much are we really giving?
      Yeah Jordan was the real deal. Rain or shine.

      Live it LOUD!

  2. Well said Rob.

    Jordan was a legend for good reason. I know that I can step it up a notch. The difficult part for me is consistency. I guess you could say I’m a streaky shooter. I’m definitely getting better with practice though. 🙂

    PS. Basketball is my favorite sport to play. Like Mike, I tend to swish threes too. 😉

    • Rob says:

      Hey Stephen,

      Being streaky can make an impact on and off the court. When struggling from the outside, I take apart my shot and mechanics. It helps. Following a set strategy on a regular basis can work wonders.
      My favorite game also. My strongest attribute is my competitive nature. Not the best at any one thing, but I will out work most.

      Live it LOUD!

  3. Annie Andre says:

    I’m not a basketball fan. But, Mr. Jordan happens to be one of the few sports icons whom i draw inspiration from. He is one hard working, ass kicking dude. Tiger woods rocks too except for all that cheating on his wife thing. LOL.

    Anyway, i’m doing my best to negotiate more things out of my life and it does feel good at the end of the day to give it all i’ve got instead of letting life whiz by.

    I hven’t had a chance to tell you that i’m looking forward to reading your new eBook and supporting you as an affiliate on my website. I’m a little backlogged on tasks right now but i’m going to get on it a the next few weeks.


    • Rob says:

      Hey Annie,

      Admittedly, I have watched too many sporting events in my life. That has changed. And, my life has been much better because of it. Most of us find those things that will keep us from giving it our all. The things in our comfort zone. It could be a hoops game, or watching every episode of…

      Take your time. I know you are a master juggler (wife, Mother of 3, entrepreneur, writer extraordinaire). Enjoy, keep smiling, and

      Live it LOUD!

  4. Kenny Eller says:

    Great post Rob! A lot to be learned from that amazing performance, as you’ve shown. Keep it up!

  5. Hey Rob,
    The good ol days of basketball. 🙂 Jordan is your prototypical “achiever” type and he certainly is the best basketball player that I have ever seen.

    I think that too many obligations and as you said busy work is draining too much time and energy away from what we need to be doing. Convince the mind and the body will follow, well said. my friend.

    • Rob says:

      Hey Justin,

      Michael is an example of persistence and ‘want to’. Many don’t know that he was cut in high school. He learned early on to fight through adversity. It appears to have stayed with him.
      Re: “I think that too many obligations and as you said busy work is draining too much time and energy away from what we need to be doing”.
      We get over one hurdle that counts and then we put three more in front of us that will not lead to the finish line. They are Resistance. If we recognize it and act upon our knowledge, we can fight it for our very existence.
      Thanks for the input and being you.

      Live it LOUD!

  6. Paul says:

    That game was so epic! It kind of disgusts me nowadays to see young basketball players be lazy and have such terrible work ethics. There are only a handful of players in the league today that demonstrate Jordan’s commitment to excellence, Kobe being the main guy that comes to mind.

    • Rob says:

      Hey Paul,

      That game was epic. That isn’t what I remember most about Jordan. What I remember most are his own words in a
      Nike commercial, “Over 3000 times I’ve been called upon by my company to perform and I did not do what I was expected to do. 26 times the company has called on me for the day’s final activities and I failed. 300 times I’ve been a part of my company’s total failure. And I ‘m still considered to be the greatest basketball player that has ever lived. I am Michael Jordan”.

      He wasn’t ruled by fear. We shouldn’t be either.

      Live it LOUD!

  7. Galen Pearl says:

    Great post! I can think of times when I had to dig deep and will myself to go forward. And this story is a famous parallel to the less famous story of my daughter, who pulled herself out of bed despite a fever in the 7th grade and played a play off basketball game so she wouldn’t let down her team. Then she went right back home and back to bed.

    • Rob says:

      Hey Galen,

      Awesome personal story! I am sure that has stuck with your daughter in other areas. Just a guess, but I’m thinking some wonderful parenting was involved.
      Thanks for sharing the Flu Game part 2.

      Live it LOUD!

  8. naveen says:

    Hey Rob.

    I really like this post! A lot to be learned from that amazing performance, which all you have written in the above!

    “Jordan negotiated 38 points out of his body that night.” …that’s really very cool. I am not regular basket ball player but here you have to post very good reference.


    • Rob says:

      Hey Naveen,

      Thanks for stopping by. The thing is we all have that part of us which is ready to take action under any circumstance. We must only unleash it.

      Live it LOUD!

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