Saturday, August 25, 2012

Najera to make NBA history as Texas Legends coach - Fort Worth Star Telegram

DALLAS -- Eduardo Najera made history Friday when the Dallas Mavericks introduced him as the head coach of their Texas Legends Developmental League squad.

Najera becomes the first Mexican-born head coach under the NBA umbrella. It's an accomplishment that's meaningful to Najera, who knows he's going to be carrying a large torch in terms of his country's heritage."I'm so proud of my heritage, proud to be a Mexican," Najera said during a news conference at American Airlines Center. "It's a lot of responsibilities, I know, I understand."But I think if I focus on just coaching and if I work really hard, I think I'm going to represent my country the right way. I think the country is going to be following me now, they're going to be following the Legends."Born in Ciudad Meoqui, Chihuahua, Mexico, Najera knows it's some added pressure placed on him as his fellow countrymen follow his every footstep with a bright spotlight."The beauty of having my long career, I think it makes it easier," said Najera, who retired after playing 12 seasons. "I think being a leader of a team now, it's a lot of hard work."In addition to coaching the Legends, Najera also has become part-owner of the Legends, and has been selected in a quasi-player personnel director's role with the Mavericks."It's going to be a lot of hard work," said Najera, who played last year for the Charlotte Bobcats. "I'm not even sad to be done playing ball, because I'm not going to be sitting at home just doing nothing and just reminiscing about my playing career."While Najera has no formal training as a coach, he's never backed down from a challenge."I'm not scared at all," Najera said. "I think that it might be a scary situation, but personally I'm excited and I'm just going to be myself."I'll work my butt off for these kids, for my players, for them to accomplish their dreams, which will be to get to the NBA."Najera played 12 years in the NBA, including for the Mavericks from 2000-2004, and in 2010.He was the second Mexican-born player to play in the NBA behind Horacio Llamas, and was the first one drafted when the Houston Rockets made him the 38th overall pick of the 2000 NBA Draft.The 36-year old Najera had a reputation as being a solid, hard-nosed defender who won over fans with his hard work and penchant for diving for loose balls.It was that tough-minded approach to the game that led Mavericks general manager Donnie Nelson to approach Najera about coaching the Legends."It's such a proud moment for all of us," Nelson said. "It's a neat story for not just all of us in the NBA fraternity, but for all the fans across Latin American and Mexico to be able to look at Eddie to continue his amazing career in a different vehicle, I think is really neat."Dwain Price, 817-390-7760Twitter:@Dwain Price

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