Golden State Warriors assistant coach Dejan Milojević, a mentor to two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic and a former star participant in his native Serbia, died Wednesday in Utah after struggling a coronary heart assault, the staff introduced. Milojević, a part of the workers that helped the Warriors win the 2022 NBA championship, was 46 years previous.

Milojević died in Salt Lake Metropolis, the place he was hospitalized Tuesday night after the medical emergency occurred throughout a non-public staff dinner. The Warriors had been scheduled to play the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night time, a sport the NBA postponed.

“We’re completely devastated by the sudden loss of life of Dejan,” coach Steve Kerr stated in an announcement launched by the staff. “It is a surprising and tragic blow for everybody related to the Warriors and an extremely troublesome time for his household, associates and all of us who had the unbelievable pleasure of working with him.”

Outpouring of sympathy

Milojević's loss of life sparked an enormous and quick outpouring of sympathy from the basketball group, and moments of silence have been held Wednesday earlier than NBA video games. Miami Warmth coach Erik Spoelstra referred to as the information “horrible.” Atlanta ahead Bogdan Bogdanovic — a Serbian, like Milojević — politely declined remark Wednesday earlier than the Hawks' sport, saying “I'm sorry. I can't discuss proper now. I really feel so dangerous,” whereas contact his chest. San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich praised how good a coach Milojević was.

“You modified my life in a short while,” Warriors rookie Brandin Podziemski wrote on social media. “Crucial factor you ever stated to me was simply to smile! Your pleasure and laughter might be endlessly missed. Shine down on us from heaven.”

WATCH Raptors coach Darko Rajaković reminds Milojević of 'position mannequin':

Raptors coach Darko Rajaković remembers Warriors assistant Dejan Milojević's 'position mannequin'

Toronto Raptors coach Darko Rajaković opened his pregame press convention with a tribute to his shut buddy, Golden State Warriors assistant coach Dejan Milojević, who died Wednesday in Utah after struggling a coronary heart assault. “A very powerful day for the NBA group,” Rajaković stated.

Milojević was in his third season with the Warriors. He beforehand coached in Serbia – the place he as soon as labored with a younger Jokic earlier than the Denver Nuggets star got here to the US – with Montenegro, and was an assistant coach for the Serbian nationwide staff alongside present assistant of Atlanta Igor Koskoskov.

“The NBA mourns the sudden passing of Golden State assistant coach Dejan Milojević, an expensive colleague and expensive buddy to so many within the world basketball group,” stated NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

Milojević labored intently with Jokic, Los Angeles Clippers middle Ivica Zubac, Orlando middle Goga Bitadze and Houston middle Boban Marjanovic, amongst others, throughout his time as a coach in Europe. With the Warriors, he labored primarily with huge males like Kevon Looney, who admired Milojević's consideration to element.

“Relaxation in peace, Deki,” Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic wrote on social media.

Kerr stated he initially realized of Milojević from Kent Lacob, the son of Golden State proprietor Joe Lacob. And when the Warriors went by way of some workers adjustments in 2021, Kerr determined to pursue Milojević. It took some convincing, however Milojević lastly agreed to take the supply. Kerr was thrilled.

“I instantly noticed what Kent was speaking about,” Kerr stated in a video produced by the Warriors final yr. “He was so nice to be round. On the similar time, he had this superb basketball background as a participant and a coach. It made plenty of sense for us to carry Deki.”

3 consecutive Adriatic League MVP awards

Milojević received three straight MVP awards within the Adriatic League, selecting up these trophies in 2004, 2005 and 2006 when the six-foot-seven, 240-pound ahead was on the peak of his enjoying profession. Jokic was that league's MVP in 2015, a yr after present Golden State ahead Dario Saric was MVP.

His potential within the sport got here early: Shortly after he began enjoying, Milojević scored 141 factors in a 14-year-old sport in 1991.

“I educate all my gamers that basketball shouldn’t be a job, however that they need to benefit from the sport,” Milojević advised Bosnian radio-television RTV in a 2018 interview. “As a result of if you wish to do one thing for the following 20 years, then you’ll like it lots. It’s not straightforward to endure all these efforts if you don’t like one thing. Solely those that have a honest love for the sport can deal with every little thing with nice success.”

A male basketball player wearing the number 13 keeps the ball away from a defender wearing the number eight with his hands during a game.
Milojević controls the ball whereas enjoying for Partizan Belgrade in an Adriatic League match towards FMP Belgrade in Sarajevo on April 23, 2006. (Damir Sagolj/Reuters)

Previous to becoming a member of the Warriors, Milojević had NBA expertise by way of Summer time League assistant teaching with Atlanta, San Antonio and Houston.

Toronto coach Darko Rajaković stated he had identified Milojević since he was a teen.

“He was a task mannequin as a participant, as a person, as a husband, as a coach – somebody I actually admired and revered lots,” stated Rajaković. “Sadly, final night time his coronary heart stopped working and he left behind his spouse and two youngsters and an excellent, nice legacy.”

Provides former Golden State assistant and present Sacramento coach Mike Brown: “Not solely was he a particularly gifted coach, however he was additionally a greater individual.”

A rescheduled date for the Warriors-Jazz sport was not instantly introduced. The Jazz stated tickets for Wednesday night time might be honored on the rescheduled sport. Golden State is subsequent scheduled to play at dwelling on Friday towards Dallas.

Milojević is survived by his spouse, Natasa, and his youngsters, Nikola and Masa.

“His loss is unfathomable,” Kerr stated.

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