With an off day in Los Angeles on Friday, the Bulls brought in coaching legend Phil Jackson to talk with the staff and the current players.
LOS ANGELES — Forget ‘‘Bring a Parent to School Day.’’
The Bulls took it to the next level.
That’s why Friday felt more like ‘‘Bring a Legend to School Day.’’
What else could an 11-time NBA championship coach be called?
And former Bulls and Lakers coach Phil Jackson didn’t just meet with the players for a Q&A session at the team hotel. He also spent 90 minutes with coach Billy Donovan and his staff, sharing war stories and philosophies about the game.
‘‘It should inspire you,’’ guard Coby White said Saturday. ‘‘If you love the game of basketball, it should inspire you. He’s a legend, a Hall of Fame coach, if not the best coach of all time. So for us, it should motivate us as a unit and a team to grow. And he gave us some insight on our team.
‘‘I also asked if he watched our games, and he said yes.’’
White wasn’t the only one affected by Jackson’s visit, either.
Forward DeMar DeRozan is the only player on the Bulls’ roster who actually played against Jackson-coached teams. He also played for Spurs coaching legend Gregg Popovich and had heard stories about Popovich’s showdowns with Jackson, leaving him awed by Jackson’s visit.
‘‘That was amazing to me, especially with [Friday] being the [fourth anniversary of the] passing of [Lakers legend] Kobe [Bryant],’’ DeRozan said. ‘‘I remember when we went to the funeral . . . [members of the Spurs] were all together.
‘‘When we got to Staples Center, the first person we ran into was Phil. I remember just standing right there, seeing Phil and Pop talk. I was in awe, just knowing the battles they went through, the success, the championships, the greatness. Just to be right there in their presence, seeing them having a conversation and interacting with one another.
‘‘It was one of the highlights of my career to be able to be in the midst of those two greats talking and me being a fan of the game. I just remember that moment. It felt so surreal to see it.
‘‘It was definitely cool to see him come speak to us directly and for us to ask him questions. I wish we had more time with him. But it was definitely dope to see.’’
Even Donovan was impressed with the time Jackson gave his players and staff. And considering that Donovan grew up watching the Knicks teams Jackson played on in the 1960s and 1970s, he even could be a bit of a fan.
‘‘I always enjoy talking to people like that,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘There’s certain things in the game that just don’t change. There’s certain things you have to do, whether it was 50 years ago or today. I think even besides getting into the X’s-and-O’s stuff, talking about the dynamics of team and the chemistry, all that stuff was great.
‘‘When he’s sitting there talking about — because I grew up in New York — Dick McGuire, he’s talking about these New York Knicks teams with Red Holzman. I was 5 years old, so I can identify with some of that stuff.’’
Besides being informative, the hope is that Jackson’s talk will work as a serious motivator. Sitting at a below-average 21-25 entering their game Sunday at the Trail Blazers, the Bulls need something.
‘‘I think that’s why they show infomercials at night, trying to get you inspired to buy the product,’’ DeRozan said. ‘‘Sometimes the right infomercial is going to have you buy in.
‘‘Being a student of the game and being able to be in the same room with such greatness, you can’t do nothing but leave being inspired walking away from it.’’