Warriors assistant coach Dejan Milojevic buried in Serbia after suffering heart attack in the US
BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Golden State Warriors assistant coach Dejan Milojevic, a mentor to two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic, was buried Monday in his native Serbia after suffering a heart attack last month.
Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral on a rainy day at a Belgrade cemetery, including Warriors coach Steve Kerr. A flower draped casket was carried by his former Serbian teammates.
Milojevic died Jan. 17 in Salt Lake City, where he was hospitalized following a medical emergency during a private team dinner. Milojevic, part of the staff that helped the Warriors win the 2022 NBA championship, was 46.
Milojević’s death triggered a massive outpouring of sympathy from the basketball community and fans in his homeland, where he was a star player with Partizan Belgrade and other clubs in Serbia, Montenegro, Turkey and Spain before turning to coaching.
Predrag Danilovic, the president of the Serbian Basketball Federation, said there was no person who did not respect and love Milojevic.
“A great basketball player, great coach left us, and above all a great man, a man without a single stain. I had that honor and pleasure to be friends with him even though we did not play together,” Danilovic said at a formal commemoration for Milojevic on Saturday.
Marko Keselj of Serbia’s Ministry of Sports and a former basketball player said the sport was Milojevic’s life.
“With his positive energy he brought out the best in us,” Keselj said. “He motivated us to be better in every way, as people and as players. Deki was a friend, mentor, he was a leader.”
Milojevic was in his third season with the Warriors. He previously coached in Serbia — where he once worked with a young Jokic before the current Denver Nuggets star came to the United States — along with Montenegro, plus had been an assistant coach for the Serbian national team alongside current Atlanta assistant Igor Koskoskov.
Milojevic worked closely with Jokic, Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac, Orlando center Goga Bitadze and Houston center Boban Marjanovic, among others, during his time as a coach in Europe.
Milojevic won three consecutive MVP awards in the Adriatic League, which comprises teams from former Yugoslavia, taking those trophies in 2004, 2005 and 2006 when the 6-foot-7, 240-pound power forward was at the peak of his playing career. Jokic was MVP of that league in 2015.
Before joining the Warriors, Milojevic had NBA experience through Summer League assistant coach stints with Atlanta, San Antonio and Houston.
Milojevic is survived by his wife, Natasa, and their children, Nikola and Masa.
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