Eduardo Najera takes first step toward NBA job

Posted Monday, Jul. 15, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Eduardo Najera led the Texas Legends of the NBA D-League to a 21-29 record in his first season as head coach.

The former player said he’s enjoying coaching and is hoping to get a opportunity to move up to the NBA.

Najera played 12 seasons in the NBA, including five with the Dallas Mavericks. He recently participated in Dirk Nowitzki’s Heroes Celebrity Baseball Game.

How do you like coaching? Coaching is great. You know it’s something I’m really passionate about. It’s certainly going to be a career for me and my goal obviously is the NBA. The great thing about what I’m doing right now is that after retirement I wanted to do something that didn’t require me to travel into town so much, something I could do just around here. I wanted to squeeze out every minute I could with my family. The drive to work is just unbelievable.

What’s the biggest difference in making that transition from player to coach? Preparation. No question. You spend a lot of hours studying the game, which as a player it’s more about instincts. That’s a big challenge to get used to. I think as an NBA player, we tend to get everything catered to our needs and somehow we are disorganized because we never take care of the little things. And now when you make the switch to coach, you’ve got to organize everything. So, if you’re not disciplined enough, you might not make it as a coach. That’s why it helps to hire a staff that you can be compatible with. For me, I had to hire people that can help me do these things so I can become a more complete coach.

Do you want to coach in the NBA? Of course. But again, being an NBA player is sort of like being an NBA coach. You’re going to be moving around. In the situation I’m in right now, I’m getting that head-coaching experience instead of jumping around to different assistant jobs and I’m right here where I want to live. It’s just a great opportunity and I had to jump on it.

What do you think about the transition made from player to coach by Doc Rivers and particularly Jason Kidd? [Kidd is] going to be nervous, isn’t he? Ha! He hired a great assistant [former Nets head coach Lawrence Frank] and the reason he did that is the fact he’s more of a book-smart coach and will complement Jason’s style. You know making that jump, it’s only happened like five times in NBA history, but he’s the smartest player that I ever played with and he deserves a shot at it. Any team that he played on, he was running it anyway.

Of the guys you played with, who do you think would be great NBA coaches? I think Dirk [Nowitzki] will be one, but he still has a long way to go. I think Michael Finley would be a great one, but he doesn’t seem to really want to pursue that. I think Steve Nash — I played with him for four years — he’s definitely going to have that opportunity, but it’s a tough job, it’s not easy.

Do you have much of a background playing baseball? Not at all. My family is all baseball and my dad played professionally for a while, but it’s all basketball for me.

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