Despite all the good things he did on the court during his active days, becoming the greatest player of all time for many people due to the incredible stuff he did to take his Chicago Bulls to the promised land, there were some times when we learned that Michael Jordan was actually a human, like the rest of us.
One game before the famous ‘Flu Game’, where MJ was battling with flu-like symptoms (which were revealed as consequences of food poisoning in The Last Dance), he had a similar experience, in the Finals, against the Jazz.
During Game 4 of the 1997 NBA Finals, not only Jordan but several other Bulls players started to complain of having debilitating cramps. They didn’t know they were drinking ‘GatorLode’ instead of Gatorade due to a mistake by the Bulls assistant coach. Author Roland Lazenby describes the moment in his book, Michael Jordan: The Life.
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.
This GatorLode was created by Gatorade to provide an even bigger energy boost than Gatorade, but it shouldn’t have been used as a substitute. Sadly, the Bulls players learned that the hard way.
That mistake cost them that Game 4, with the Jazz prevailing 78-73. It was a completely different story than Game 5, with MJ struggling that ‘flu’, Chicago went 0 for 4 from the floor to finish Game 4. MJ demonstrated he was not from this world in Game 5 of that series, but the prior game an assistant coach mistakenly found MJ’s kryptonite.