His career in the NBA, his relationship with Dirk and Lillard

During his 13 years coaching in the NBA, Caleb Canales marking the history of the league. You may not know his name, but in 2012 he became the first Mexican-American coach in NBA history during his time with the Blazers.

First assistants Nate McMillan and Terry Stotts on the Blazers, Rick Carlisle on the Mavericks, David Fizdale on the Knicks and Nate Bjorkgren on the Pacers join the Jr NBA Coaches Online program today. The opportunity to look back on his career, his times with Dirk Nowitzki and Damian Lillard, the NBA world and coaching.

Host Group: You are the first Mexican-American coach in NBA history. Do you think diversity and disclosure is important for coaches in the NBA? Or do you think it will be an inspiration for future generations?
Caleb Canales: It is an honor for me to be the first Mexican-American head coach in the NBA. For our community and my family. As a competitor, my main goal is to become a head teacher. The NBA is ahead of these challenges, with programs and opportunities at every level, from the G League to the NBA.

One of the things we try to look at with the Jr NBA Program is the desire to allow coaches to develop. We want to explain to them what it’s like to train on a daily basis during the NBA season. As you can see, we have to train the best players in the world, but they are also the toughest players in the whole world.

Last year, you organized a football camp for young people in Laredo, your hometown in Texas. You are now part of the Jr NBA Coaches team. What is important to you to do for the community?
Caleb Canales: It’s very important for me to give to the community. I think he was one of the main coaches of the Jr. NBA Coaches Program. My 13th assistant is important to me. Giving to the community, returning home to Laredo, and helping the young people there with camps and other programs is important to my family and me.

The Jr NBA Coaches Online program is a great idea for young Europeans who want to succeed. The NBA is growing a little bit every year, how much does this kind of culture mean to you?
Caleb Canales: The NBA, in recent years, has played a major role in the success of the game around the world. Many have worked hard to combine different programs: Basketball Without Borders, Jr.

It was done every night. Nikola Jokic was the last MVP. With Giannis Antetokounmpo and Luka Doncic on the All-NBA First Team, we can clearly see progress. But we see the success of many players, not just All-Stars. Players and coaches came. There are hundreds and hundreds of examples of the growth of the game in different parts of the world, and I think the NBA has been the best industry at this level in a long time.

From a European perspective, when do you expect European coaches to have their place in the NBA?
Caleb Canales: I think it’s a lot like walking with players. It started very slowly, there were ups and downs in terms of the number of players. There are many good players around the world and today it is known.

I think working like coaches. Start with one or two, then one year between five and ten, and the next year not so much. The fact that the NBA will continue to do so for the rest of the world will not only affect the players, but the coaches around the world.

“I’ve had good relationships, for life, with guys like Dirk, LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard … guys I’ve been able to train with for a long time.”

You worked at the Mavericks, where you lived every day with the Dirk Nowitzki story. What would you say to the young Europeans on the program if they asked you how to be the next Dirk Nowitzki?
Caleb Canales: You see, I learned a lot from Dirk. What I tell them is a dream. Great dream. They have to keep that goal, but come with responsibility and action. A player like Dirk Nowitzki, whom I have been able to train with for five years, works at an elite level every day. And hard, but he does his game like the little ones. It starts from there, you have to learn the game.

In this case, you have served 13 years as an assistant in the NBA and you have been the head coach of the Blazers for one season. Today, you are the chief consultant of the Mexican government. Who are the players and would you like to work with the characters that stand out to you?
Caleb Canales: My favorite time of the last 20 years? Really hard, man. Lots of great moments. Clearly, we remember the great victories, the great prisoners who were hurt…

I had the opportunity to teach Hall of Famers in the future like Dirk Nowitzki, LaMarcus Aldridge, I think Damian Lillard is a Hall of Famer. I was able to train Brandon Roy for a while, but his career was cut short by injuries. But guys like Wes Matthews and Jared Bayless are hard workers that I work with. I grew up with them and we are engaged today. I have very good relationships with men like Dirk, LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard… men I have been able to train with for a long time.

What do you think is important to be a good teacher?
Caleb Canales: I think you need to know how to listen and open up. I hope you find some kind of game, some experience, that you want to incorporate. But you need to keep it simple to manage your employee. In the end, what you want is to put your team in a better position to win. Sometimes, as a coach and assistant, you have to change now.


The Jr. NBA Coaches – Online presented by Gatorade® is a program hosted on OWQLO and offers 12 virtual live sessions from February to September for users aged 16 and over in France. The next session with Caleb Canales, the NBA’s first assistant coach, will be held on Sunday, June 12. For more information, visit owqlo.com, gatorade.com@NBAFRANCE ma Facebook a Twitter and @NBAEurope ma instagram.

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