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USA TODAY Sports’ Mackenzie Salmon talks to former Chicago Bull B.J. Armstrong about how Micheal Jordan found motivation to be great.

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Just because some ground has been covered previously in books and stories, it doesn’t mean it’s not worth revisiting or getting a fresh perspective in “The Last Dance.”

Episode 9 was a perfect example of that, from the “flu game” to Steve Kerr to Reggie Miller (and his great Michael Jordan trash-talking story) to another security guard who was close with Jordan.

And of course, it wouldn’t be true to ethos of “The Last Dance,” if we didn’t hear from Jordan using someone else winning an award or another player saying something to Jordan that Jordan didn’t like as motivation. Hello Bryon Russell. Hello Karl Malone.

Here are the takeaways from Episode 9:

The ‘food poisoning’ game

Game 5 of the 1997 Finals between the Utah Jazz and Chicago Bulls in Salt Lake City is known as the “flu game.” It is a game of legend and myth-building.

But Jordan didn’t have the flu. He suffered a bout of food poisoning from a local pizza place, according to Jordan and his friends. Late the night before, Jordan was hungry, and those assembled in his room, including trainer Tim Grover and friend George Koehler, found one place open.

It’s not stated directly but insinuated that the pizza place intentionally made Jordan sick, saying five guys delivered the pizza to Jordan’s room. “I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” Grover recalled saying.

Jordan said he woke up at 2:30 a.m. “throwing up left and right,” and said he couldn’t hold anything down and stayed in bed all day.

Jordan’s mom, Deloris, suggested he not play. “Mom, I have to play.”

Of course he did. Jordan had 38 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals, giving the Bulls a 3-2 series lead headed back to Chicago for Game 6.

MORE: DiGiorno Pizza had best response to MJ’s ‘flu game’ story

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The Steve Kerr backstory

The story that shaped a big portion of Steve Kerr’s philosophy is tragic. His dad, Malcolm Kerr, was the president of American University of Beirut and was assassinated while Kerr was in college at Arizona.

It’s a well-known story but worth covering in “The Last Dance” if only to hear and see Kerr choke up at the thought of his dad, a basketball fan, seeing all that happened in his life.

“He would’ve loved this,” said Kerr who went to games at UCLA where his dad was once a professor of Middle East studies.

Kerr ended up making the winning shot in the sixth and final game of the 1997 Finals. “The ultimate trust from Michael comes in the playoffs if you come through,” present-day Kerr said.

But Kerr, who had his run-in with Jordan and earned his respect, had not had a great Finals. Still on that play, Jordan was forced to pass to Kerr, who made the shot. At the Bulls’ championship parade and celebration, Kerr told his version of the story saying Jordan said in the huddle it was best if the ball went to Kerr.

“I guess I gotta bail Michael out again,” he told Bulls fans.

It was classic Kerr, the kind of story he tells today as coach of the Golden State Warriors.

(An aside: the photos of Kerr as a kid were delightful).

Another touching security guard story

We know the story of John Michael Wozniak, the Bulls and Jordan security guard who gave the “Jordan shrug” after beating Jordan in a silly wager.

In Episode 9, we get to know another prominent figure in Jordan’s life: security Gus Lett, who befriended Jordan when Jordan had sustained a foot injury earlier in his career.

“From then on, it started to grow,” present-day Jordan said. “He was a great protector for me.”

Following the murder of Jordan’s dad, James, Jordan said Lett, “became like a father figure to me; I had to have him next to me.”

While Lett was often there for Jordan, Lett’s wife, Tish, said Jordan was there for the family when Lett was diagnosed with lung cancer.

“He was an inspiration for me,” said Jordan, who gave Lett the game ball from Chicago’s Game 7 victory over the Indiana Pacers in 1998.

Same as it ever was

The slights (real and perceived) were front and center in this episode. This time, the 1996-97 Utah Jazz were on the receiving end of Jordan’s irritation, which only motivated him more. First, Jazz forward Karl Malone was named MVP, preventing Jordan from winning his fifth MVP.

“Not saying he wasn’t deserving, just saying it fueled the fire,” present-day Jordan said.

But Jordan knew Malone fairly well. He didn’t know Bryon Russell as well, and as Jordan tells the story — who knows if it’s Jordan making up something again for motivation — Russell asked Jordan why he quit in 1993 and said he could Jordan.

“From that point on, he’d been on my list,” Jordan said.

In Game 1 of the 1997 Finals, Jordan hit the winning shot over Russell who will end up playing a large role again in the 1998 Finals.

Dueling with Reggie Miller

Reggie Miller has great stories. And he’s a great trash talker. And both were on display as “The Last Dance,” focused on the 1998 Eastern Conference finals between Miller’s Indiana Pacers and Jordan’s Bulls.

“Most people feared MJ, and rightfully so, but I didn’t fear him like the rest of the league did,” Miller said.

Earlier in his career, Miller explained that he talked a little trash with Jordan, and after Jordan did a number on the Pacers in the second half, Jordan, according to Miller said, “Don’t ever talk trash to black Jesus.”

From that point on, Miller said he only referred to Jordan as “black Jesus” or that black cat — but never Michael Jordan.

Jordan admitted a certain amount of respect for the Pacers calling them the toughest team (outside of Detroit) the Bulls had to play in the Eastern Conference.

The Pacers forced the Bulls to a Game 7 in 1998 — just one of three Game 7s Jordan played in his career.

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt.

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