The Texas Legends have named Eduardo Najera the first Mexican-born head coach under the NBA umbrella, pending NBA approval. The 6 ft .8 in. former basketball player announced his retirement Wednesday after playing 12 seasons with six different teams.
Nájera will lead the NBA D-League’s Texas Legends.
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 deserves this job on the merits — he built a relationship with Dallas over time and has proven a strong understanding of the sport over his long career. But the importance of his background cannot go unmentioned. While soccer continues to be the most popular sport in Mexico by a wide margin, Najera is extremely popular and has consistently ranked among the NBA’s top 10 endorsers worldwide. Having him at the helm of a team in Texas (and tied to the Mavericks) will be very good for business. He’s the kind of asset a franchise would like to keep around long term.
Of course, this isn’t just a business issue. Najera was already a legitimate trailblazer — he was the first Mexican selected in the draft and has easily had the most successful career of the three Mexican-born players in NBA history. Now that he’s a coach, he can create new paths for minorities in basketball.