Thin and crispy with extra pepperoni
Here’s something that will blast a hole in Michael Jordan’s trainer’s theory that the pizza he ate before Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals was purposefully tampered with: the guy who made it was a Bulls fan.
After seeing the story presented on Sunday’s finale of The Last Dance, a Utah man named Craig Fite posted on Facebook that he was the guy who made and delivered the pizza to Jordan. He joined “The Big Show” on 1280 The Zone in Salt Lake City to give his side of the story.
At the time of the Flu Game, Fite had recently been hired as an assistant manager at a Pizza Hut in Park City, Utah, about 30 minutes from downtown Salt Lake. The Bulls had already been staying at the Park City Marriott for a few days and Fite says everyone in the local food service industry knew which hotel they were at. When a delivery order came in from the hotel, the employee who answered the phone said he thought it was for one of the players. Fite, as the only Bulls fan working there, assumed control of the order.
“I said, ‘Well, I’m delivering it’,” Fite recalled. “I remember saying this: ‘I will make the pizza, because I don’t want any of you doing anything to it.’ And then I told the driver, you’re going to take me there.”
Michael’s order was a large, thin and crispy pizza with extra pepperoni. Fite insists that, because he was still a new employee and eager to impress, he made sure to follow the food prep guidelines to a T. All the ingredients were fresh. Nothing was added that could have gotten Jordan sick.
Fite and the unidentified driver went to the hotel, checked in at the front desk and went up to the Bulls’ floor.
“As soon as the [elevator] door opened, it was like I got punched in the face with cigar smoke,” Fite said.
Fite’s account of what happened next differs wildly from the account presented by Jordan’s trainer, Tim Grover, in The Last Dance. Grover described “five guys” waiting outside the door to Jordan’s room, “all trying to look in.” MJ’s driver, George Koehler, says it was “four or five guys.” Fite says it was just him and his delivery driver, and he didn’t even have five guys working the restaurant that late a night.
Fite says the “great guy who’s been saying all this crap lately” (apparently referring to Grover) was the one who opened the door and gave him $20 for the pizza and a tip. Fite asked to say hello to Jordan, so Grover opened the door wide enough for MJ to look up from his card game and say, “Thanks, man.” Grover says in the doc that after closing the door on Fite, he thought to himself, “I have a bad feeling about this,” implying he feels the pizza was deliberately tampered with.
Not only does Fite deny contaminating the pie to make Jordan ill, he doesn’t think Jordan had food poisoning at all—not from his pizza, at least. He says there were no other reports of food poisoning from the pizzas his store delivered that night.
“Did you get it diagnosed? Did you go to the doctor? All this is innuendo on their part,” Fite said. “One thing I remind everybody is, he was smoking so many cigars. They had windows open. He didn’t have a shirt on or he was in a tank top. At around 3 or 4 o’clock in the afternoon in Park City, the sun is gone behind that mountain so it gets colder up there.”
So he’s saying Jordan caught a cold from sitting by an open window with his shirt off while smoking a cigar and that’s why he was up in the middle of the night? Come on.
“Or they could have brought him food from somewhere else if it really was food poisoning,” Fite continued. “But that pizza was made well. I followed all the rules.”
To recap, Grover believes a starting lineup of pizza deliverymen showed up to sicken Michael with a tampered pizza. Fite thinks he got sick from some other food or from an open window. Isn’t it obvious the pepperoni was just a little too old?
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