Q and A with Coach Najera
|Credit: Garrett Ellwood|
How does it feel to be involved in this new role with the Legends?
Eduardo Najera: ďWell, you know, Iím excited. Iím excited about the opportunity obviously. Itís going to be a difficult transition but Iím willing to put in the work. The more exciting thing is Iím going to have Del [Harris] and Donnie [Nelson] helping me, and Iíve learned a lot from them. Now, as a coach, theyíre going to teach me the basics. I already have a pretty good foundation. I had great coaches throughout my career, and I have that experience. Iím extremely excited by this opportunity.Ē
Did you visualize yourself as a coach while you played in the NBA?
EN: ďYou know what, the last couple years when I was playing, I was more of a player-coach. I was fortunate enough to have Larry Brown and Paul Silas give me the opportunity to interact with players during practice. I could voice my point of view and my opinion. I started feeling more comfortable. I went to the coaching program put on by the NBAPA. That was a big, big help. I learned a lot. I think Iím on the right track. I just canít wait to start working.Ē
Did your NBA playing experience prepare you for coaching in the D-League in particular?
EN: ďObviously, itís going to be a learning experience. I think that Iím so passionate about the sport of basketball, my work ethic, my values that I used on the basketball court, Iím going to apply them as a coach, and Iíll be fine.Ē
How do you prepare yourself for this new role, from player to coach?
EN: ďThe beauty of it is Iíve had different coaches throughout my career help me, give me the right preparation. Obviously Iím going to have Del interact and help me with everything I might need. Iíll have Donnie do the same thing. I think when we finally have the roster, and the kind of team weíre going to have, Iíll start making plans and going through the player personnel, and working on different strategies for the team.Ē
What does this mean for the Latin community in the United States?
ďIím proud to say Iím going to become the first Mexican-born coach. Iím excited about that. I know with that comes a lot of responsibility. I know the countryís fans are following me. Now theyíre going to follow the Legends. I believe weíre going to get a lot of support from the Hispanic community in Dallas.Ē
Can the D-League serve as a stepping stone for Latin players that dream of playing in the NBA?
EN: ďI think itís a great bridge. I do believe that. Players who havenít gotten the exposure for the NBA scouts, the D-League level can be a lot easier for them to follow up. Theyíll try to develop and hopefully weíll put some more Mexicans in the NBA.Ē
How do you see the D-League, and in particular the Legends, continuing on the right track to influence and benefit the NBA?
EN: ďItís been quite a change. I remember the D-League when it was first started, and obviously it has changed completely. Now you have a better level of competition. Itís truly a platform to get to the NBA, as a player and a coach. Itís a great opportunity. You see more and more players coming through the D-League. Last year there were more than 40 call-ups. Itís becoming a legit league - Itís already a legit league. Itís more exciting for players to play there, and I think eventually itís going to become the easiest way to get to their ultimate goal, playing in the NBA.Ē
What were some of your favorite moments during your 12-year NBA career?
EN: ďYou know what, I truly believe my heart belonged with the Mavericks. The Legends are basically in my back yard. Itís very convenient for me, but Iím also very excited to learn the business side of the NBA. Iíve got many, many memories, many of which are from the Mavericks. We advanced into the Western Finals. We were always competing for an NBA championship. I can think of many memories, many wars in San Antonio, in Minnesota, in Sacramento. Those memories Iím taking with me, hopefully I can share those experiences with younger players coming in.Ē
Who were your favorite teammates during your career?
EN: ďIíve got to go with Dirk, Steve Nash, Mike Finley Ö All these guys who made a big impact on my NBA career who I now consider my friends.Ē
Did your relationship with NBA fans inspire you during your career?
EN: ďTremendously. You play basically for your fan base. They definitely made the game of basketball very exciting. Iím thankful for all the support, on all the teams I played for. Obviously, I hope that they continue to support me now as a coach. Now that Iím going to be working with the Mavericks on the management side, hopefully we can accomplish that objective I left behind and win a championship. Hopefully I can be a part of another championship in Dallas, and coaching the Legends, thatíd be the goal, to win a championship in the D-League.Ē