The NBA broke new ground on Thursday with the appointment of Kaleb Canales as the interim coach for the Portland Trail Blazers following the termination of Nate McMillan.
Canales is now the first Mexican-American head coach in the NBA.
Latino Rebels made the find after scouring through the list of NBA head coaches to ensure Canales is the first and only Mexican-American head coach. The closest the blog could find was Mark Aguirre, who was an assistant coach for the New York Knicks.
However, Canales is not the first Latino head coach. Dick Versace, who is of Puerto-Rican descent, coached the Indiana Pacers for two years.
If Canales' role as the first Mexican-American head coach isn’t interesting enough, then his ascent to the top certainly is. Canales didn’t just walk into the position -- he worked his way up through the ranks from the bottom in just eight years.
The Texas native started as an unpaid video intern in 2004 before he was made assistant coach by the 2008-2009 season. During his time spent in the video room he carefully studied the game films in order to get a feel for the NBA and the team. Even before he was appointed to the position of assistant coach, his advice, which was often sought by then coach McMillan, held water.
Then, in 2010, Canales coached the Blazers' Las Vegas Summer League Team, hanging his hat on a 4-1 record.
The Oregonian attributes his quick rise to unwavering faith and old-fashioned hard work. The later is certainly true since Canales often sleeps on a couch at the Trail Blazer’s facility, spending 144 nights in the player’s lounge during one particular season.
Canales doesn't just take his position on the team seriously -- he also values his job as a role model, especially to those in his hometown of Laredo, Texas, where he returns every summer to teach kids in a basketball clinic.
"They can’t be afraid to dream," Canales told Katu.com. "I was their age and I was dreaming and hopefully they can look at me and say, 'You know, it can be done,'"
Check out the local news story video below to see Canales in action.