Sports: Married to the NBA

Written by Nathan Winfrey in the June 2010 Issue

Three kids and hectic schedules can be a strain on any marriage - especially when the husband plays for the NBA.

Jennifer Nájera has been married to Dallas Mavericks reserve forward, Eduardo Nájera for 10 years. They met as college sophomores while Eduardo helped the Sooners through four consecutive NCAA tournaments.

These days, Jennifer resides at their Edmond, Oklahoma home with their children, ages 7, 5 and 2. Eduardo stays in their Dallas home during the season, which starts in September and can run until June if the team makes the playoffs. Jennifer and the kids visit him every weekend the Mavs are at home in Dallas.

“It’s hard being away from him so much,” Jennifer says. “Family life is definitely tough in the NBA. They’re on the road; they’re tired from practicing. Mentally, they have to be completely focused on basketball, so it’s really hard to come in as a family and have his full attention.”

Jennifer says Eduardo is great with the kids, but he has to make basketball a priority. She says it’s similar to other demanding careers — if the phone rings, he has to drop everything and go.

“It’s neat to be able to say that my husband is an NBA player,” Jennifer says. “It’s still a lot of fun and the kids enjoy it.”

Eduardo usually calls Jennifer in the mornings, when he gets out of practice and in the evenings to say goodnight to the kids. “We try to communicate throughout the day and we text,” she says. They recently bought a cell phone for their 7-year-old daughter, and she text-messages back and forth with her dad all day, talking and sending each other pictures.

Jennifer is mostly a stay-at-home mom and part-owner of Funky Monkey Clothing, located in NW Oklahoma City at 14101 N. May Avenue. “It’s kind of like my fourth baby — my last baby,” she says.

In the summer, Eduardo hosts basketball camps in Mexico. “He has a gift to work with people and teach them,” Jennifer says. “He’s really smart on the court; he always knows where the ball is. As a player, that gives him an advantage, but as a coach that’s even better.”

In 2000, Eduardo became the first Mexican-born player drafted to the NBA and the second Mexican-born NBA player in history. He played for the Mavericks until 2004, while Jennifer and their only child at the time lived in Dallas with him.

When Eduardo was traded to the Golden State Warriors, they’d just found out Jennifer was pregnant with their second child and made a decision to be near family in Edmond. “We decided that we were going to make a base here and I’d travel back and forth with the kids,” she says.

By the time that child was born, Eduardo had been traded to the Denver Nuggets. In 2008, he went to play for the New Jersey Nets. This year, he returned to the Mavericks. “Now that he’s back in Dallas, it’s much easier to go down there every weekend,” Jennifer says.

She says there are a lot of perks to having a famous husband. Long waiting lists at nice restaurants seem to disappear when her husband is recognized. “It’s nothing major, but it’s nice,” Jennifer says.

Eduardo and Jennifer were invited to a State Dinner at the White House in 2001. “When you have dinner at the White House, you don’t get to sit with who you came with. He was at table number one and I was at table 21,” Jennifer says. “I thought I was going to be at the back of the room, but it wound up being totally opposite.”

Eduardo’s table was at the back of the room and Jennifer shared a table at the front with Laura Bush, former Redskins cornerback Darrell Green, Mexican President Vincente Fox and Clint Eastwood. Jennifer says she’s met many famous people during Eduardo’s NBA career.

“The fans in Dallas are really good to him,” she says. “They appreciate the effort that he puts on the court, diving for the ball and sacrificing his body. The wear and tear on his body after ten years is certainly taking its toll. He fights for the ball, instead of crying about not getting it.”

Jennifer says she’s glad Eduardo is able to play basketball. “He enjoys it and it’s nice that he can get up and look forward to going. I’m glad that he can do something he loves.”

1 Comment

Edith Vickers Says:
July 1st, 2010 at 10:40 am
I have to agree with fact that being a wife of a husband that is involved with sports. Whether it is an athlete or a Coach, it is hard on your marriages, relationships and families. We have double the duties sometimes! I am glad to read that you and your husband are doing well and I comend you for for keeping your family together and being a supportive wife. God bless you and your family!!!
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