Why Steve Kerr doesn't see another Michael Jordan ‘Flu Game' happening


Warriors coach Steve Kerr has firsthand knowledge of Michael Jordan's will.

Nearly 23 years ago, Kerr played alongside a severely weakened Jordan in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals. Battling food poisoning, Jordan scored 38 points to help lead the Chicago Bulls to a 3-2 series lead over the Utah Jazz in what's known as the "Flu Game."

More than two decades later, Kerr doesn't see a repeat performance from any player he coaches following the sports shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

"We're not taking that chance today," Kerr recently said on the Runnin' Plays podcast. "I guarantee you that. If that happened with Steph, or Klay, or any of our players, no way we're dealing with that."

Jordan had no plans of sitting out that game, despite his condition. The previous night, Jordan had ordered pizza from a local parlor. Shortly after eating it, he was in the fetal position in his room after the pie left him sick.

By the time Kerr saw his teammate the next morning, Jordan was in bad shape. 
"He had an IV at the shoot-around," Kerr said. "We were at a high school in Park City, 45 minutes outside of Salt Lake, for that Finals game, and ... he could barely move."

But Jordan was dominant in Game 5. Following a slow start, he scored 17 points in the second half, hitting a 3-pointer with 25 seconds left to give the Bulls the lead. In the waning seconds of the Bulls' 90-88 win, Jordan was so exasperated that teammate Scottie Pippen had to carry him off the floor.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Years later, Kerr said teams have evolved their approach and are more likely to hold a player out if he's sick or recovering from an injury.

"I'd like to think we're smarter today and we've taken more decisions out of players' hands, more medical decisions out of players' hands," he said.

History suggests that Kerr has stayed true to his word. This season, when guard Steph Curry pushed to come back from a broken hand on March 1 -- three months after he sustained the injury -- team staff delayed his return until four days later, to Curry's chagrin.

[RELATED: Why Nellie thought Jordan should've been a point guard]

But Kerr believes the new approach toward player health will continue when the NBA returns.

"It's a different era and a different time," Kerr said. "I think we value players differently. We have more help medically. We understand how to work players more in terms of resting them and preparing them for the long haul of the season."

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