Eduardo Najera -- the Head Coach and General Manager of the Texas Legends -- was born in Meoqui, Mexico. He eventually went high school in San Antonio, earned a full basketball scholarship to attend the University of Oklahoma, and enjoyed a 12-year career in the NBA. Now with the Legends' most recent partnership he has a chance to give back to his home state of Chihuahua, Mexico.
On November 6th the D-League's Texas Legends announced that they have officially partnered with the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. Their home court in Frisco, Texas has been renamed "Chihuahua Court at Dr. Pepper Arena" and there will be significant signage and branding on their jerseys as well as the court itself.
Chihuahua is also the first state in Mexico to host a D-League training camp. The Legends held camp there from November 7th to November 10th, and they will continue to host future training camps in Chihuahua as well. This partnership is clearly about more than basketball as the Legends attempt to expand their international reach while also providing services for the community of Chihuahua.
Owner Donnie Nelson had a glowing review regarding recent trips to the state.
"Over the past year, Eduardo Najera and I have visited Chihuahua many times. I always depart extremely impressed with the culture, hospitality, the beauty of the landscape, and the vision of the Chihuahuan leadership to continue to grow basketball and other sports within the country. As Eduardo's home state, Chihuahua has a rich basketball tradition already, and we look to help grow and expand that tradition over the coming years."
Throughout the coming year, the Legends will host basketball and coaching clinics in Chihuahua that will be attended by coaches and youth players at all levels. It truly is a win-win in this partnership and Chihuahua gets to expand into the U.S. and the Texas Legends get to represent the NBA D-League at an international level. No one is more happy than Najera that this partnership has come to fruition.
"I cannot begin to express my gratitude to the people of Chihuahua for their long support. Growing up, one of my goals was to be able to eventually give back to the country and the people, and this partnership is part of that. Chihuahua has remained a part of me throughout my career, and it will remain an important part of who I am in my post-playing career as well."
Although this is a monumental move for the Legends' international reach, they have not lost touch of their local fans and supporters. Last month the team announced that they are bringing back the KIA car giveaway contest. Last year the team partnered with Central KIA and won an award for "best activation" during the annual D-League award meetings. The team suspended a KIA Soul above center court during home games for all fans to see and during the last home game one lucky fan drove away with the brand new car.
This season, they have continued their partnership with Central KIA and will again suspend a car above center court during home games. But this year, it will be a 2015 KIA Optima. While this might seem like a bit of a gimmick, it's very savvy as far as trying to get people in the door. There are multiple ways to have your name entered and possibly selected as one of the 26 finalists, however they all involve showing up for Texas Legends games or community events.
The idea with events and showcases like this is always to get more fans in the seats and clearly the innovation worked last season and Owner Donnie Nelson decided to bring it back again. Again, 26 finalists will be chosen at random and those people will be invited to attend the Legends' final home game on April 4, 2015. There will be 26 keys to choose from, however, only one will be the correct one.
Before you simply dismiss these events, marketing schemes, or anything else of the like remember that the NBA was once in an infancy stage like the D-League and had the same type of events. Fans come to D-League games for quality basketball first and foremost, but they also enjoy the family atmosphere and unique events offered, that they most likely would have no chance of being involved in with an NBA club.
Texas has many more things planned, but you will have to stay connected because the events are swift and continuously changing to keep fans interested.