Eduardo Najera rejoins Mavericks
DALLAS -- Eduardo Najera won't be riding off into the sunset of NBA retirement.
The former blue-collar power forward is instead taking over as head coach of the D-League Texas Legends with a stake in ownership and has accepted a significant role in the Dallas Mavericks' front office.
Najera, 36, officially announced his retirement earlier this week to tremendous fanfare and media attention in his native Mexico.
On Friday he was introduced as head coach and a part-owner of the Legends, which was first reported earlier this week by ESPN.com's Marc Stein.
Najera will also join Mavs president of basketball operations and Legends co-owner Donnie Nelson as a key decision-maker in personnel matters.
"Eddie will be my right hand, and he'll be assisting me in all major decisions with the Mavericks," Nelson said Friday at Najera's introductory news conference. "We had a really nice experience with Michael Finley over the last couple of months. ... We haven't determined a title -- (owner) Mark (Cuban) is not big on titles, as you know, but he'll be in draft rooms and he'll be not only selecting players with the Texas Legends, but he'll get in involved with all the major decisions with the Dallas Mavericks as well."
Finley, who played in Dallas for nine seasons, recently rejoined the franchise in a consultant role and was part of the recruiting team with Nelson and coach Rick Carlisle that met in New York last month with free-agent target Deron Williams.
Najera spent the first four seasons of his 12-year career with Dallas as well as the 2009-10 season under Carlisle. He finished his career with the Charlotte Bobcats under Larry Brown, who is also now in Dallas as head coach at SMU.
Najera and his family reside in Frisco, where the Legends play, so he said it made perfect sense to make this leap into the various facets of the two organizations. He said he plans for a more vocal and hands-on approach, at least initially, as Legends coach.
"Obviously it's a great opportunity. Donnie has done a great job with the Mavericks, and to be close to him and learning about the business side is going to be an adventure," Najera said. "I believe that it's a great opportunity, and more so than having an opinion, I think I'm just going to be listening to everything that is going to be going on. I'm going to be a sponge and try to learn everything that he's throwing out at me."
The decision to join the Mavericks and Legends on multiple levels also comes with a lofty ulterior motive for Najera, who became the first Mexican-born player to be drafted in the NBA and is now the first Mexican-born head coach in the NBA or D-League.
He was at first reluctant to talk about his long-range vision but then shared his dream to gain the experience to someday help bring an NBA team to his home country.
"I truly believe that in the '90s, Mexico was already prepared to have a pro team, and now that I've gotten to know important people, politicians, it just kind of clicked," Najera said. "I don't want to talk about this a whole lot, but the country kind of has that bad reputation right now, but I believe that with the new change (in Mexico's presidency) coming up, it's going to open up that door again to eventually have an NBA franchise, of course, in Mexico.
"I'm talking about five, 10, 20 years, but it will be something that I would like to support. That's the reason this makes perfect sense being part-owner of the Legends, being the head coach, working closely with Donnie with the Mavericks. It's sort of a great plan, and basically I can get the experience, and so when I go down to my friends, I can say, hey, this is the way you do things, and hopefully they can buy the idea and hopefully they can make it happen."