The Texas Legends have named Eduardo Najera the first Mexican-born head coach under the NBA umbrella, pending NBA approval. Najera becomes the third head coach in Legends history, following former NBA Coach of the Year Del Harris, and basketball Hall-of-Famer Nancy Lieberman.
Subject to NBA approval, Najera will also be a minority owner of the Legends, as well as hold a front office position with the Mavericks. Najera’s NBA career began with the Mavericks in 2000, after he became the first Mexican-born player to be drafted in NBA history.
“I have the utmost respect for Eddie,” commented Legends Owner Donnie Nelson. “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.”
Najera announced his retirement from the NBA as a player in the same press conference. Of Najera’s 12 seasons in the NBA, five were in a Mavericks uniform — 2000-04; 2009-10 — and he still regards Plano as his primary residence. In his first four seasons, the power forward averaged 17.4 minutes, helping Dallas reach its first postseason since 1990 in his rookie season.
“This is a dream come true,” commented Najera. “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. I am thankful to have individuals such as Mark Cuban, Donnie Nelson, and Del Harris by my side as individuals to lean on for advice.”
Del Harris was the Legends head coach for the 2011-12 season, which saw the Legends have a team record two players called up to the NBA (Sean Williams and Dan Gadzuric). Harris will return to his front office role as General Manager. Najera represents another branch of Harris’ coaching tree. Harris has coached more than 60 people who have become NBA or collegiate coaches, and 11 of Harris’ assistants have gone on to NBA head coaching positions.
“I look forward to assisting Eddie in any way possible as General Manager,” said Harris. “I am proud to say that one of my former players is taking over the coaching reigns, and look forward to watching Eddie’s development as a coach.”
Najera’s addition as a minority owner brings the Legends ownership group to four individuals, including Chinese-born Sonny Xiao, the first Chinese-born owner under the NBA umbrella (joining original owners Nelson and Evan Wyly).