The similarities between Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan are big. You could say they had a similar career, too, and had a similar experience during the Finals, when both players suffered food poisoning ahead of a big game.
MJ had his ‘Flu Game’ in the 1997 Finals against the Utah Jazz when he ate a whole pizza by himself and started vomiting in the middle of the night. In the end, he would score 38 points, lifting the Bulls over the Jazz, getting closer to a title they’d eventually win in six games.
Five years later, we found the new star in the league, Kobe Bryant, taking his Los Angeles Lakers to the NBA Finals, when the New Jersey Nets where waiting for them. Kobe had shown a lot of dominance during that series, so it’s believed that external agents tried to ‘contribute’ to prevent Bryant from having a good performance on the court.
A New Jersey mob allegedly tried to give the late Lakers legend food poisoning before the big series. Darren Rovell wrote in 2002 that one bacon cheeseburger had a bad effect on Kobe. He was staying at the Sacramento Hyatt when the incident happened. It all started when somebody called to an LA talk show to spread the rumor.
Ten years ago today, the second most covered food poisoning in NBA history… pic.twitter.com/gz3C6Ovaxt
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) May 20, 2020
Lakers trainer Gary Vitti was the person accusing the hotel of giving Kobe a bad meal. He said the Mamba started vomiting and had diarrhea around five or six hours after he ate the burger. He claimed a mob was behind all of that.
The hotel was under investigation, but nobody could find anything to blame them for Kobe’s illness.
Whether it was on purpose or not, that didn’t help anybody in New Jersey. Just like happened with Jordan, Kobe dominated the Nets in the next game after that, sweeping them while averaging 26.8 points in four games.