Golden State Warriors assistant coach Dejan Milojevic, victim of a heart attack and urgently hospitalized on the night of Tuesday January 16 to Wednesday January 17 in Salt Lake City, Utah, died Wednesday morning at the age of 46 years, announced the North American basketball league (NBA) and the California franchise on Wednesday evening.

Milojevic fell ill during a private team dinner on Tuesday evening, leading to the postponement of the match scheduled for Wednesday against the Utah Jazz. The Warriors franchise said that “despite all efforts to save him,” he died late Wednesday morning.

“We are completely devastated by the sudden death of Dejan,” responded Steve Kerr, Golden State head coach.

Dejan Milojevic, nicknamed “Deki”, was crowned European champion in 2001 with Yugoslavia as a player. First head coach of the Serbian Mega Basket club, he was an assistant to the Serbian national team alongside Igor Koskoskov, the current assistant for the Atlanta Hawks. Close to Denver’s Serbian pivot, Nikola Jokic, he was recruited as an assistant in 2021 by Steve Kerr’s Warriors, with whom he won the NBA championship title in 2022.

“An incredible experience”

“He was so nice to be around. At the same time, he had incredible basketball experience, both as a player and as a coach. It made so much sense for us to bring Deki in,” explained Steve Kerr in a video released by the Warriors last year.

In his playing career, Dejan Milojevic gleaned three consecutive titles (2004, 2005 and 2006) as best player (MVP) in the Adriatic League, the championship which brings together the best teams from the countries of the former Yugoslavia. NBA star Nikola Jokic was also crowned NBA MVP in 2015, a year after current Golden State forward Dario Saric.

“I teach all my players that basketball is not a job, but that they have to love the game,” Dejan Milojevic told Bosnian radio and television RTV in an interview in 2018. Because if you want to do something for the next twenty years, then you have to like it a lot. It’s not easy to endure all this effort if you don’t like something. Only those who have a sincere love for the game can handle everything very successfully. »