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Eduardo Najera to be first Mexican-born head coach under NBA umbrella

August 23, 2012|By Melissa Rohlin
  • Eduardo Najera speaks at a Mexico City news conference at which announced his retirement as an NBA player to take over as coach of the Texas Legends.
Eduardo Najera speaks at a Mexico City news conference at which announced… (Alex Cruz / EPA )

Eduardo Najera has been named coach of the Texas Legends, a D-League team affiliated with the Dallas Mavericks. The hiring makes him the first Mexican-born head coach under the NBA umbrella.

Najera was the first Mexican-born player to be drafted in NBA history when he was selected by Houston in the second round in 2000. He played 12 seasons with Dallas, Golden State, Denver, New Jersey and Charlotte, averaging a career 4.9 points and 3.7 rebounds.

Najera retired Wednesday to take his new role in the coaching ranks. Subject to NBA approval, he will also be a minority owner of the Legends and hold a front-office position with the Mavericks.

"This is a dream come true," he told reporters. "I have long wondered what would be in store for me when I hung up the basketball playing shoes, and this is the perfect opportunity for my post-playing career. The chance to develop as a coach, while also assisting Mark [Cuban] and Donnie with the Mavs, is an ideal situation."

Najera succeeds Del Harris, a Lakers coach from 1994 through 1999. Harris will remain with the Legends in the front-office role of general manager. 

Coaching under Harris could be fortuitous for Najera. After all, 11 of Harris' assistants have gone on to NBA head-coaching positions.

"I have the utmost respect for Eddie," Legends owner Donnie Nelson said. "The work ethic he exhibited as a player, and his knowledge of the NBA game will serve him well in his role as head coach of the Legends. Whether coaching a rookie or an NBA veteran, Coach Najera will have valuable insight for all of our players.  I am equally excited to begin working with Eddie in a front-office capacity with the Mavericks as he learns the management side of the game.  I am proud to be able to call Eddie an ownership partner with the Legends."

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