Golden State Warriors assistant coach Dejan Milojević died suddenly on Tuesday night at the age of 46 after suffering a heart attack during a team dinner in Salt Lake City. The Warriors were scheduled to play the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night, but the game was postponed by the NBA following Milojević’s hospitalization and subsequent passing.
Assistant Coach Hospitalized During Team Dinner
Milojević was hospitalized on Tuesday night after collapsing during a team dinner at a Salt Lake City restaurant, according to sources. The Warriors coaching staff and players had gathered for a meal together ahead of their matchup with the Jazz the following night. At around 8:30 PM local time, Milojević suffered a medical emergency and EMTs were called to the scene.
He was quickly transported to a nearby hospital but his condition continued to deteriorate. The Warriors consulted with the NBA and made the decision to postpone Wednesday’s game in order to support their staff and players as they grappled with the shocking development.
Milojević Remembered as a “Beautiful Soul”
Milojević had been a player development coach with the Warriors since 2019. He joined the organization after head coach Steve Kerr took interest in his unique skill development strategies during the 2018 offseason. Players and coaches alike remembered Milojević as a deeply caring person who uplifted those around him.
“He was just a beautiful soul,” said guard Stephen Curry. “The passion for life, the passion for the game, the way he made you feel. It was amazing. I don’t know how long I sat on the phone with him talking about life.”
|Seasons with Warriors
|Player Development Coach
Small forward Andrew Wiggins called Dejan one of his closest friends on the team and someone who pushed him to maximize his abilities as a player. The Warriors plan to honor Milojević with patches on their jerseys and pregame tributes when play resumes.
Warriors, NBA Postpone Game Against Jazz
Shortly after Milojević was hospitalized on Tuesday night, the NBA determined that the game between Golden State and Utah scheduled for Wednesday would need to be postponed. The contest was slated as the second night of a road back-to-back for the Warriors following their Monday loss to Portland.
With the team’s focus now shifted entirely to the wellbeing of players, coaches, and staff in the wake of their teammate’s sudden death, continuing as planned seemed unimaginable. The Jazz organization quickly offered their full support.
“The Utah Jazz are very saddened to hear this extremely unfortunate news,” the team said in a statement. “Our hearts go out to his family. We offer our sincere condolences to Dejan’s loved ones.”
The NBA later announced that the game would not be played as originally scheduled and a rescheduled date has yet to be determined. This marks the first Warriors game postponed this season. However, given the unprecedented and tragic circumstances, the decision was an easy one according to all parties involved.
Outpouring of Support from NBA Community
As word of Milojević’s passing spread across the league, there was an outpouring of emotional reactions and support from players, coaches, front office executives, and fans alike. Many who came into contact with him expressed how positive and full of life he was both on and off the court.
Fellow Serbian and reigning MVP Nikola Jokić struggled to process the stunning news of his countryman’s sudden death after the Denver Nuggets’ Tuesday night game:
“To be honest, I’m having trouble finding words for what I want to say,” Jokić admitted. “We have lost someone very important to the basketball community. I hope we remember how he lived, not how he died.”
Milojević was beloved across the entire Warriors organization and made a tremendous impact on the franchise’s culture during his five years there. He played a crucial part in player development and forging tight bonds across the roster. While he largely operated behind the scenes, his influence loomed large.
The story is still developing and further information is likely to come out about what specifically caused Milojević’s untimely death. The Warriors are currently working to provide mental health resources to players and staff as they grieve the immense loss of a figure who meant so much to their championship core.
What Comes Next for Golden State
In the wake of this devastating tragedy that has shaken the Warriors franchise to its core, the team’s schedule becomes a secondary concern. The players will undoubtedly need time and space to mourn the passing of a close friend and colleague before shifting focus back to competitive basketball.
Golden State’s originally scheduled showdown with Utah seems destined to be pushed back indefinitely. The Jazz also proposed the possibility of having both teams honor Milojević in a ceremony before their eventual head-to-head matchup.
When the Warriors do return to the floor, it will likely be with incredibly heavy hearts. The vibrant and overflowing spirit that Milojević brought to San Francisco’s talented roster every day will be impossible to replace. His legacy will continue to impact the organization for years to come.
For now, Steve Kerr, Stephen Curry and the rest of Golden State’s locker room have more important matters than game plans and jump shots. They lost a member of their family far too soon. And there is no preparing for that harsh reality in the world of sports.
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