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NBA Experience Has Benefitted Texas Legends This Season

They say 10 is the perfect number, and for first-year Texas Legends head coach Bob MacKinnon Jr., 10 has been a good number for both him and his team this season.

That’s because 10 represents how many players with NBA experience MacKinnon Jr. has had on the Legends’ roster this season.

He currently has three players with NBA experience in Ben Gordon, who played 744 games for four teams between 2004 and 2014, Manny Harris, who played 89 games for Cleveland the Los Angeles Lakers between 2010 and 2014 and Pierre Jackson, a former Baylor star who had several stints with the Dallas Mavericks this season.

And there have been others as well, like former Maverick DeJuan Blair, who was with the Legends earlier this season but now plays for another NBA D-League team, the LA D-Fenders.

MacKinnon Jr. continues to be impressed daily with how well these former NBA players have interacted with and mentored their younger teammates.

“Yeah, it’s hard to have experience when you don’t have experience, and those guys have great experience. Not just experience, they have great experience,” MacKinnon Jr. said. “They have been part of winning organizations. You see how they prepare themselves to play and that’s an everyday thing.”

“I think what they show our players is that you have to come with a professional attitude every day. (They show them) this is not a once a week or twice a week thing. If you want to get to that next level and play at that next level, you got to be a pro every day.”

Two of those players, Nicolas Brussino and AJ Hammons, are members of the Mavericks who also play for the Legends somewhat regularly.

However, MacKinnon Jr., who has coached countless years in college and who also has a considerable amount of D-League coaching experience, knows that a player possessing NBA experience doesn’t automatically make him a great fit for his or any other D-League team.

No, this coaching lifer knows that another important factor also must enter the equation.

“It’s a great luxury (to have guys with NBA experience) when they’re good people,” MacKinnon Jr. said. “It’s just nice when you can deal with good people.”

Legends forward Jaleel Cousins already knows a thing or two about what it takes to make it in the NBA since his younger brother, DeMarcus Cousins, who now plays in New Orleans, is considered one of the Association’s 10 best players.

But Cousins admits it’s been nice this season to see how guys like Blair and Gordon handle their daily business for him to firsthand get a better idea of what it’s going to take for him to join his brother in the league.

“I would say just a good experience, seeing a vet and somebody who’s been through the grind, just to learn from and to actually have him in your presence to watch and take notes of how it’s supposed to be done,” Cousins said. “It kind of gives us a cheat code in a way to take two steps ahead maybe of somebody who doesn’t have that opportunity to have somebody like that in front of them. It’s a blessing in a way because it helps out this team a lot because we see where we need to be and what it takes.”

And since the point of the D-League is to develop players and prepare them to one day play in the NBA, MacKinnon Jr. has no doubt that the Legends were the right landing spot for him.

“Yeah, I’m fortunate that I’m a position here with this organization where this organization values player development and values players moving up and getting to the next, better thing,” MacKinnon Jr. said. “That’s been the mission statement here since I got here and it’s just a great situation.”