January 17, 2024 – 1:23 PM PST
(Reuters) – Golden State Warriors assistant coach Dejan Milojevic has died, the National Basketball Association (NBA) club said on Wednesday after the Belgrade native suffered a heart attack during a team dinner.
The 46-year-old Milojevic was in his third season as an assistant coach with Golden State after helping the team win the 2022 NBA championship.
“We are absolutely devastated by Dejan’s sudden passing,” said Warriors head coach Steve Kerr. “This is a shocking and tragic blow for everyone associated with the Warriors and an incredibly difficult time for his family, friends, and all of us who had the incredible pleasure to work with him.
“In addition to being a terrific basketball coach, Dejan was one of the most positive and beautiful human beings I have ever known, someone who brought joy and light to every single day with his passion and energy.”
The Warriors said Milojevic was taken to a Salt Lake City hospital on Tuesday after suffering a heart attack at a private team dinner but, despite life-saving efforts, died late Wednesday morning.
Earlier, the NBA announced that the Warriors’ game at the Utah Jazz scheduled for later on Wednesday had been postponed because of a “medical emergency in the Warriors family” and that a makeup date would be announced at a later time.
The Utah Jazz were among the NBA teams who expressed their condolences following the news of Milojevic’s death, calling him “a well-respected and beloved member of the NBA family.”
Before joining the Warriors, Milojevic spent the 2021 season as head coach of Buducnost in the Adriatic League in Montenegro. Prior to that role, Milojevic was head coach for Mega Basket in Belgrade, Serbia, for eight seasons.
In December 2019, Milojevic was named an assistant coach for the Serbian national team under Igor Kokoskov.
Milojevic also enjoyed a 14-year international playing career and was named the Adriatic League Most Valuable Player three times (2004-06).
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver also released a statement on Milojevic’s death.
“The NBA mourns the sudden passing of Golden State assistant coach Dejan Milojevic, a beloved colleague and dear friend to so many in the global basketball community,” said Silver.
“In addition to winning the 2022 NBA championship in his first season with the Warriors and mentoring some of the best players in the world, Dejan had a decorated international playing career and was a distinguished head coach in his native Serbia.”
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar and Toby Davis