Dejan Milojevic dies at 46: Basketball world mourns loss of Warriors assistant coach, EuroLeague great

Dejan Milojevic, a hulking EuroLeague icon who became a big man whisperer in Europe before joining the Warriors staff as an assistant coach, died suddenly on Wednesday morning. He was 46 years old.

Milojevic was hospitalized overnight in Salt Lake City after suffering a heart attack during a private team dinner. The Warriors had been set to face the Jazz on Wednesday evening. After news of Milojevic’s condition, the league opted to postpone the matchup.

“We are absolutely devastated by Dejan’s sudden passing,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said in a statement. “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.”

An undersized power forward whose game earned him comparisons to Charles Barkley, Milojevic enjoyed a 16-year playing career in which he suited up for some of Europe’s biggest sides. Milojevic captured three straight Adriatic League MVP awards as a member of Partizan Belgrade, perhaps Serbia’s biggest side.

A Belgrade native, Milojevic took his talents to the sideline after hanging up his sneakers back in 2009. He was named Mega Basket’s head coach in 2012. And in nine years at Ranko Zeravica Sports Hall, 11 of Milojevic’s prodigies were drafted into the NBA, including two-time MVP Nikola Jokic.

With that track record, it was only a matter of time for the NBA to come knocking for Milojevic. After one season with Montenegrin side Buducnost, Milojevic traveled across the ocean to join Steve Kerr’s staff in San Francisco. Brought in to help nurture former No. 2 overall selection James Wiseman, Milojevic played a critical role in shaping the play of many a Golden State big, namely rebounding starlet Kevon Looney.

A basketball lifer with a passion for the game only matched by a love of his players, Milojevic leaves behind a wife, Natasa, and two children, Nikola and Masa.

“I teach all my players that basketball is not a job, but that they should enjoy the game,” Milojević told Bosnian radio-television outlet RTV in a 2018 interview. “Because if you want to do something for the next 20 years, then you have to love it a lot. It’s not easy to endure all these efforts if you don’t like something. Only those who have a sincere love for the game can handle everything with great success.”

NBA world mourns Dejan Milojevic’s passing

The basketball world was united in grief after learning of Milojevic’s death, with some of the game’s biggest stars paying tribute to one of the sport’s more beloved figures.


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