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Golden State Warriors assistant coach Dejan Milojević, a mentor to two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic and a former star player in his native Serbia, died Wednesday in Utah after suffering a heart attack, the team announced. Milojević, part of the staff that helped the Warriors win the 2022 NBA championship, was 46.

Milojević died in Salt Lake City, where he was hospitalized Tuesday night after the medical emergency happened during a private team dinner. The Warriors had been scheduled to play the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night, a game the NBA postponed.

Milojević’s death elicited a massive and immediate outpouring of sympathy from the basketball community, and moments of silence were held Wednesday before NBA games. Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra called the news “horrific.” Atlanta forward Bogdan Bogdanovic – a Serbian, like Milojević – politely declined comment Wednesday before the Hawks’ game, saying “I’m sorry. I can’t talk about it right now. I feel so bad,” while tapping his chest. San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich raved about how good a coach Milojević was.

Milojević was in his third season with the Warriors. He previously coached in Serbia – where he once worked with a young Jokic before the now-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.

Milojević 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. With the Warriors, he worked primarily with the big men like Kevon Looney, who raved about Milojević’s attention to detail.

Kerr said he originally learned of Milojević from Kent Lacob, the son of Golden State owner Joe Lacob. And when the Warriors went through some staffing changes in 2021, Kerr decided to pursue Milojević. It took some convincing, but Milojević finally agreed to take the offer. Kerr was thrilled.

Milojević won three consecutive MVP awards in the Adriatic League, 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, a year after current Golden State forward Dario Saric was MVP.

His potential in the game came early: Shortly after he began playing, Milojević scored 141 points in a game as a 14-year-old in 1991.

Before joining the Warriors, Milojević had NBA experience through Summer League assistant coach stints with Atlanta, San Antonio and Houston.

Toronto coach Darko Rajaković said he had known Milojević since he was a teenager.

Added former Golden State assistant and current Sacramento head coach Mike Brown: “Not only was he an extremely talented coach, he was an even better person.”

A rescheduled date for the Warriors-Jazz game was not immediately announced. The Jazz said tickets for Wednesday night would be honored at the rescheduled game. Golden State is next scheduled to play at home Friday against Dallas.

Milojević is survived by his wife, Natasa, and their children, Nikola and Masa.

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