HANG TIME, Texas — It’s an old axiom in sports that the best coaches and managers rarely come from the ranks of the stars.
If that’s the case, keep your eye on new coach Eduardo Najera.
When you construct a 12-year NBA career without ever averaging as much as seven points a game in a single season, you must be learning and doing a lot of other things right.
For Najera, those things were rebounding, banging and never letting a loose ball get away without at least a very honest effort.
Now the first Mexican-born player drafted into the league has retired and will become the first Mexican-born coach under the NBA umbrella when he leads the Texas Legends of the Development League. He’ll also become a minority owner of the team and also hold a front office position with the Mavericks in the NBA.
“This is a dream come true,” Najera said. “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 [Nelson] with the Mavs, is an ideal situation.”
Drafted in the second round by Houston in 2000, Najera played the first four seasons of his NBA career in Dallas at time when the team was trying to bury a decade of failure. The Mavs made their first playoff appearance since 1990 during Najera’s rookie year as he carved out a reputation as a power forward who would go down into the low post and do the dirty work.
“I have the utmost respect for Eddie,” said Nelson, who is a co-owner of the Legends and president of basketball operations for the Mavericks. “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.”
If the best coaches are not simply born out of the headlines but forged in the trenches, Najera may have the experience and the scars worth watching.