The Sickest Performances From Sick Athletes

Flu Game Michael Jordan

When an average guy feels under the weather, he’ll spend all day on the couch, watching television, sucking down fluids and complaining to whoever will listen. But when you’re a professional athlete, you can’t let your team down. These athletic greats not only showed up for work, but manned up in dramatic fashion with amazing performances despite their sniffles and tummy aches.

1. Michael Jordan (1997 NBA Finals Game Five)

Dubbed “the Flu Game,” Michael Jordan ignored the medical advice of the Bulls’ trainer (who told him there was no way he could play) and delivered a gutsy performance. With 38 points, seven rebounds and five assists, Jordan helped the Bulls beat the Utah Jazz, perhaps the most productive sick day of all time.

2. Walter Peyton (1977 Bears vs. Vikings)

Intense flu symptoms and a 101-degree fever would slow down most NFL running backs (and most humans), but not Walter Peyton, a tough Vikings defense who carried the rock 40 times and rushed for 275 yards, an NFL record at the time. So whenever you call out of work over a scratchy throat, remember Peyton and feel ashamed.

3. Kirk Gibson (1988 World Series Game 1)

A bad stomach virus kept Kirk Gibson out of the starting lineup. He watched the game on the clubhouse’s TV, presumably between bathroom visits. When announcer Vin Scully reported that he was nowhere to be found, Gibson reported for duty and pinch hit in dramatic fashion, jacking a game-winning two-run shot to help the Dodgers win 5-4. A terrific performance for both Gibson and his Pepto-Bismol.

4. Pete Sampras (1996 US Open)

If you’re vomiting your brains out, it’d be difficult to play four hours of tennis. But that’s exactly what Pete Sampras did in a match that led him to a US Open title. Gives a whole new meaning to “tennis grunting.”

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Sean Green (@greenroomshow) is a standup comedian and podcast host living in Los Angeles