Ultimate Teammate Comes Through Again in the Flu Game
When Chicago prepared to retire Scottie Pippen’s number 33, Bulls.com took a look at the legendary player’s greatest moments.
Bulls 90, Utah Jazz 88
June 11, 1997 | NBA Finals, Game Five
Delta Center | Box Score
In an image that defines the meaning of teammate, Scottie Pippen carried a sick and slumped Michael Jordan back to the bench at the end of Game Five of the 1997 NBA Finals.
Jordan, playing with flu-like symptoms that reportedly had him vomiting until just before game time, scored 38 points and made a huge three-pointer with 25 seconds left to lead the Bulls to a 90-88 victory over the Jazz.
He scored 15 points in the final quarter, including the three to give Chicago an 88-85 lead.
“He was at the point where we didn’t know if he was going to play or not,” Pippen recalled. “Normally when you’re sick or something of that nature and you try to play, though, you tend to try and go above and beyond. You’ve got to reach down deep. We didn’t know if he was going to make it, so every bit of energy that he had, we wanted to make sure was used in the right situation… not like walking to the bench.”
In what he called a desperation game, Pippen scored 17 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out five assists for the Bulls, who recovered from a 16-point first-half deficit and an eight-point hole early in the fourth. He also connected on 7-of-9 from the free-throw line.
“As teammates, we should have played better basketball, but we really appreciate the way he carries the team,” Pippen said after the game.
Jordan’s heroics that night are among the most memorable in NBA history.
“I’ve played many seasons with Michael and I’ve never seen him as sick to the point where I didn’t think he was going to be able to put his uniform on,” Pippen added. “The effort that he came out with was just incredible. He kept everybody patient. He made big shot after big shot, and he kept wanting the ball. He showed just how big a professional he is by gutting this game out.”
At the end of the night, the raucous crowd at the Delta Center filed out silently, knowing that their franchise’s best chance for its first title had probably passed. Chicago’s triumph at the Delta Center gave it a 3-2 advantage in the series. The Bulls would need only one more game to collect their fifth NBA title.
Click to read the next story on Pippen’s Greatest Moments: Pippen fired in 47 points, earned praise from Jackson.
Read Scottie Pippen’s Top 10 Greatest Moments here.