SAN FRANCISCO - The death of Golden State Warriors assistant coach Dejan Milojević, 46, sent an emotional shockwave throughout the NBA, after the team announced Wednesday morning that Dejan Milojević, suffered a heart attack during a team dinner Tuesday night in Salt Lake City, Utah.
NBA teams including the Lakers and Mavericks held a moment of silence in Milojević's honor before their games Wednesday.
"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. We grieve with and for his wife, Natasa, and their children, Nikola and Masa. Their loss is unfathomable."
Former Warriors General Manager Bob Myers gave an emotional tribute on ESPN's NBA Countdown.
"He was this bigger than life person and he would light up a room and it's such a loss because he's gone," Myers said.
Milojević was in his third season with Golden State as an assistant coach.
Born in Serbia, Milojevic's love for basketball started on the court, playing professionally for 14 years in Europe, including as a member of the Soviet and Montenegro national teams.
He then turned to coaching. Milojević spent the 2021 season as head coach of KK Budućnost in the Adriatic League in Montenegro.
He also worked with the Hawks, the San Antonio Spurs in 2017 and the Houston Rockets in 2018.
Photos of Dejan Milojevic courtesy: Golden State Warriors.
In a video posted by the Golden State Warriors, Head Coach Steve Kerr explained why he recruited Milojević, or "Decky" as he called him. Kerr said, "He was so great to be around, but at the same time, had this amazing basketball background as a player and a coach, and it made so much sense for us to bring Decky in."
"It’s been great to watch Decky develop as a coach, as he’s gotten more comfortable with the language and culture, and our group and the guys love him. The players love him," Kerr said.
Former colleagues and coaches shared their memories.
"A great man and he'll be sincerely missed by everyone," said Mike Brown, Sacramento Kings Coach and a former Warriors assistant coach.
Warriors fans with words for the family.
"As a fan, I mean, our hearts, my heart goes out to you," J. Morgan, a Warriors fan said.
Milojević, also was a hero and mentor to many in the Serbian basketball community here and overseas, including Nuggets star center Nikola Jokic.
"He helped a lot of people to make the next step in their career," said Raptors head coach Darko Rajaković , a fellow Serb, "Last time we were together he talked about Serbian National Team and his dream of being head coach of Serbian Team."
UCSF Health Cardiologist and Electrophysiologist Doctor Zian Tseng said, although he's not familiar with this particular case, he's not surprised at a sudden death of a 46-year-old athletic man. He said, "It can happen to anybody, with any level of fitness."
Dr. Tseng said, "Pay attention to warning signs and symptoms, such as, chest pain, shortness of breath, fainting is a big symptom. Palpitations or skipping heart beats is another one. Swelling in the legs is another warning sign that should prompt you to call your doctor."
The Warriors were in Utah to take on the Jazz on Wednesday, but the game was postponed. The Warriors are scheduled to play the Dallas Mavericks at home on Friday night. No word yet on whether that game will be held or postponed.