Thursday , Aug , 23 , 2012 Matt Formica

Najera retires as a player to be a coach

Najera retires as a player to be a coach

Eduardo Najera announced today that he is both retiring from the game of basketball as a player, and returning to the game as a coach.

Hoopsvibe’s Quick Call:  Najera was a solid player, and professional in the NBA and will do a great job as a head coach.

Najera was named the new coach of the NBA Development League’s Texas Legends Wednesday and will become the first Mexican-born head coach under the NBA umbrella.  He will also receive an ownership stake in the team.

Born in Mexico, the 6’8 small/power forward moved to San Antonio after high school and spent two years at Cornerstone Christian Academy learning English and getting his name out in the basketball community.  He attended the University of Oklahoma from 1997-2000 where he helped lead his team to four consecutive NCAA tournament appearances before being drafted by the Houston Rockets in the 2000 NBA Draft.

He played for Dallas, Golden State, Denver, New Jersey and Charlotte over the course of his 12 seasons in the NBA.

Now on to a different phase of his basketball journey, Najera seemed excited for the opportunity to make the transition from player to coach.

"This is a dream come true," he 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 with the Mavs, is an ideal situation."

Najera will replace Del Harris as new head coach of the Legends.  Harris, who has coached more than 60 people who have gone on to become NBA or collegiate coaches, will remain in the organization and assume the role of General Manager.

The Legends are co-owned by Dallas Mavericks president Donnie Nelson and Najera’s already close ties to the franchise as a player make him a great selection for head coach.

Najera, the first Mexican-born player selected in an NBA draft, averaged 4.7 points and 3.9 rebounds per game over his career.

On a side note:  Even though Najera’s numbers don’t sound like much, I witnessed him play in person in Denver and I can tell you his presence on the court was felt.  I remember being surprised and very impressed that he was such an offensive threat.  He had a quick first step for a guy his size and could drive to the basket as well as pull up from three.

Hoopsvibe wishes him luck in his new venture as head coach!

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Image source:  ouhoops.com