Najera retires as player to be D-League coach
FRISCO, Texas (AP) -- Eduardo Najera, the first Mexican-born player drafted in the NBA, retired Wednesday to become the coach of the NBA Development League's Texas Legends.
Najera was drafted by Houston in the second round in 2000. He played 12 NBA seasons with Dallas, Golden State, Denver, New Jersey and Charlotte.
The Legends said Najera will now be the first Mexican-born head coach under the NBA umbrella. The deal also includes Najera becoming a minority owner of the Legends, who are co-owned by Mavericks president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson, and holding a front-office position with the NBA team.
"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 with the Mavs, is an ideal situation."
Najera succeeds Del Harris as the Legends coach. Harris is still with the team as general manager.
The Legends' first coach two years ago was Nancy Lieberman, the first woman to coach a men's pro team.
Najera, who made his NBA debut with the Mavericks in 2000 and played parts of five seasons in Dallas, announced his retirement during a news conference in Mexico City. He played the last two seasons with the Bobcats.
"I have the utmost respect for Eddie," Nelson said. "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."
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