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, January 17, in Utah after struggling a coronary heart assault, the workforce introduced. Milojević, a part of the workers that helped the Warriors win the 2022 NBA championship, was 46.
“We’re completely devastated by Dejan’s sudden passing,” coach Steve Kerr mentioned in an announcement launched by the workforce. “It is a surprising and tragic blow for everybody related to the Warriors and an extremely troublesome time for his household, pals, and all of us who had the unimaginable pleasure to work with him.”
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 now-Denver Nuggets star got here to the US – together with Montenegro. He had been a head coach for eight years in Europe and beforehand was an assistant coach for the Serbian nationwide workforce alongside present Atlanta assistant Igor Koskoskov.
Relentless love of the sport
Milojević received three consecutive MVP awards within the Adriatic League, taking these trophies in 2004, 2005, and 2006 when the 6-foot-7, 240-pound energy ahead was on the peak of his enjoying profession. Jokic was MVP of that league in 2015, a yr after present Golden State ahead Dario Saric was MVP. No participant has extra Adriatic MVPs than Milojević, and the tales of some video games in his youth had been legendary. Amongst them: How he scored 141 factors as a 14-year-old in 1991, with 83 of these factors coming within the second half after his coach ordered he take all of the pictures.
“I train all my gamers that basketball isn’t a job, however that they need to benefit from the sport,” Milojević advised Bosnian radio-television outlet RTV in a 2018 interview. “As a result of if you wish to do one thing for the subsequent 20 years, then it’s a must to adore it lots. It’s not simple to endure all these efforts in case you don’t like one thing. Solely those that have a honest love for the sport can deal with the whole lot with nice success.”
Toronto coach Darko Rajaković mentioned he had recognized Milojević since he was a teen. “He was a job mannequin as a participant, as a person, as a husband, as a coach – anyone that I actually admired and have quite a lot of respect for,” Rajaković mentioned. “Sadly, final night time, his coronary heart stopped working and he left his spouse and two youngsters behind and an enormous, massive legacy. It is a actually unhappy day for the entire NBA group.”
Tributes like these started pouring in after Milojević’s demise was introduced, from groups he labored with and even groups he did not. “I had the pleasure of working with Dejan throughout my time with the Warriors,” former Golden State assistant and present Sacramento coach Mike Brown mentioned. “Not solely was he a particularly gifted coach, he was a good higher particular person.”
Milojević is survived by his spouse, Natasa, and their youngsters, Nikola and Masa.
Le Monde with AP
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