NBA mourns passing of Dejan “Deki” Milojevic, Warriors on IG, coaches/players on podium
The embedded video above has Dejan “Deki” Milojevic’s fellow countrymen Darko Rajakovic and Bogdan Bogdanovic on the podium recently, as well as Mike Brown, Michael Malone and Erik Spoelstra. Here are chapters and timestamps:
0:00 Deki with Festus Ezeli
0:06 Erik Spoelstra
0:38 Michael Malone
1:41 Mike Brown
6:38 Darko Rajakovic
8:36 Jama Mahlalela postgame Raptors locker room
9:32 Bogdanovic Bogdanovic
11:40 Deki x James Wiseman 10/1/2021
14:33 Deki x Nikola Jokic 10/6/2021
14:45 closeup of Deki x Wise 10/7/2021
17:02 Deki x Draymond Green 11/1/2021
19:25 Deki x Jordan Poole 11/2/2021
19:44 Deki x Kevon Looney in NYC 11/15/2021
19:54 Looney on Deki in El Segundo, CA at practice before flying to Phoenix
As for my personal experience: it’s basically in the second half of the above video, the LetsGoWarriors footage of Milojevic, most notably with the bigs like James Wiseman and Kevon Looney, of course — Wiseman btw also has not mentioned anything on his socials yet. But Deki was also seen helping out in workouts with Draymond Green.
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There’s even a clip of him being a token rim protector of sorts in a workout with Jordan Poole, Steph Curry and Juan Toscano-Anderson, late after practice on November of 2021, after being done with the centers. Poole back-rimmed a dunk attempt after soaring past Deki in that one. In true Deki style, he grinned about it and patted JP on the back after Jordan had frustratingly slammed the padded wall with an open hand.
I never spoke with Deki but we’ve made eye contact before and, well, guys who are in the trenches a lot as I used to be, it’s just that unspoken camaraderie from seeing each other all the time. He definitely smiled plenty and could brighten the room just by doing that.
But I got heartbroken the other day (see my guest appearance on Lakers Fastbreak, S/O Sean Grice aka “Magicman” for the invite) just because I know the guys past and present who are still wearing or once wore the blue and gold are heartbroken.
It will be very difficult, for example, for Looney and Jonathan Kuminga and others to get through their eventual first pregame routine when Deki won’t be there courtside to look over game tape on a laptop. That part still gets you teary-eyed, just thinking about it.
The last couple days, I’ve observed some radio silence among the people close to the team that I know and occasionally interact with. Things are coming around in terms of replies, but it seems most will need some additional time to re-establish contact with those outside of their immediate circle, obviously, as this is all part of the grieving process. I’ve been told by someone who attended a workout that it was quiet over there at Chase Center.
It’s kind of ironic that this all happened near the four days of no games already scheduled, as I brought up in the previous post. Granted, there are still two postponed games to squeeze in some time in the future, but this all comes at a time when fans have been their most toxic, as you would imagine. Our squad that has had a dynastic run in years past is currently an ugly-looking 18-22 and even uglier 12th place, but it’s nice not to hear any toxicity on the Xitter app and other platforms. The time off and forced perspective of something that’s unarguably bigger than basketball, helps human beings regain their, uh, you know, humanity.
Target mid- to late-next week as when I’ll have an exclusive paid subscribers-only article all about Brandin Podziemski. I’ve actually had quite a few gems collected since I first made this announcement which has now stretched to about a month, but I’ll be talking to two people in his camp by early next week, so I promise you, something is coming down the pipeline because it’s been far too long.
Below in chronological order, generally, are some additional notes and quotes (read: “‘massive compilation/aggregation”), including social media posts from Warriors and other NBA players, as the news broke Tuesday morning Jan. 17th. Most of the videos linked below are already in the compilation above, unless otherwise noted.
And at the bottom is the livestream and notes we did in lieu of the postponed game at Utah. I’ll do one tonight in lieu of the postponed game vs Dallas as well and here is the link:
Here we go with the massive compilation/aggregation:
• A team spokesman described the team’s mood as “shaken.” “We’re in prayer mode,” he said. In the wake of Milojevic’s health emergency, the team canceled Wednesday morning’s scheduled shootaround at the University of Utah. The Warriors’ four-game trip will be cut short, with the team having gone 1-2. Players and coaches have been spending time at the hospital. The spokesman said the team will fly back later Wednesday to San Francisco, where it’s scheduled to play Dallas on Friday night. (Connor Letourneau) https://www.sfchronicle.com/sports/warriors/article/warriors-assistant-dejan-milojevic-hospitalized-18612747.php
• Festus Ezeli posts a Reel on IG: “Pls send prayers up for Coach Deki after a heart attack last night. Currently hospitalized.” GSW-UTA has been postponed, will be rescheduled at a later date, probably logistically difficult to do it Jan 20-23 off days for GSW due to UTA being out of town.
• Ezeli reposted his IG story with “medical emergency” instead of “heart attack”.
• SportKlub of Serbia reported that Milojevic passed away: https://sportklub-n1info-rs.translate.goog/kosarka/nba/preminuo-je-dejan-milojevic/?_x_tr_sl=es&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en&_x_tr_pto=wapp (original version: https://sportklub.n1info.rs/kosarka/nba/preminuo-je-dejan-milojevic/)
• “It has been confirmed. Dejan Milojević has died at 46.” (Zena Keita, NBCSBA)
• Later Keita would add, “I deleted my previous tweet w/ this news out of respect to Dejan's family and GSW. I genuinely apologize for its premature timing and assure it was shared earnestly to first offer my condolences and second, to inform,” which explains why Ezeli also did similarly on IG. https://x.com/itszenakeita/status/1747725706635915297
• “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.” (Warriors PR)
• Adam Mares of DNVR Sports with a snippet from someone (probably Miroslav Cuk, Serbian basketball historian — more on him below) who knew Milojevic, on Dejan spotting a young Jokic as a future star. VIDEO: https://x.com/adam_mares/status/1747710039194845354
• Podziemski: “You changed my life in such a short time. The most important thing you ever told me was to just smile! Your joy and laughs will forever be missed. Shine down on us from heaven. Rest In Peace Dejan Milojević ❤️” https://x.com/brandinpodziem2/status/1747720347808604533
• We are deeply saddened by the loss of Coach Dejan Milojević. Our thoughts are with his family and friends as well as the entire Warriors organization. (Denver Nuggets)
• Lauri Markkanen on Twitter: “Awful news today.. My deepest condolences to Coach Milojevic’s family and the Warriors organization..”
• Revered in Serbia, see comments in tribute from Partizan Belgrade franchise:
• Adam Silver: “The NBA mourns the sudden passing of Golden State assistant coach Dejan Milojević, a beloved colleague and dear friend to so many in the global basketball community. In addition to winning the 2022 NBA championship in his first season with the Warriors and mentoring some of the best players in the world, Dejan had a decorated international playing career and was a distinguished head coach in his native Serbia. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his wife, Natasa, their children, Nikola and Masa, and the Warriors organization during this tragic time.” (NBA PR)
• Vasa Micic of OKC was coached by Milojevic on the Serbian National Team, which of course had Jokic on it:
• A long, in-depth interview with Dejan Milojevic from 2018, where he talks about his coaching philosphy as he's on the cusp of joining the NBA ranks. Read with Google translate by using the three dots in the upper right hand corner of your screen. (Kerith Burke) https://www.rtvbn.com/3891794/intervju-dejan-milojevic-dva-puta-sam-odbio-partizan
• Partizan Belgrade: “Free entry to the match of the 17th round of the ABA League in Stark Arena against @bcmegabasket! IN HONOR OF MILOJA!🖤 We invite all fans to come in black t-shirts or hoodies.”
• Pistons and Hawks holding a moment of silence. (Omari Sankofa, Jameelah Johnson)
• A very emotional Darko Rajakovic on his pre-game message to his team: “I told my guys I loved them.” Darko said the play they ran on their first possession was one he learned from his friend Dejan Milojević (Trent hit a 3 off it): “I dedicate this win to our team and to Dejan… A role model …. Unfortunately he’s not here any longer to share anymore dreams.” (Josh Lewenberg, Michael Grange) [VIDEO IS ALSO IN THE EMBEDDED VIDEO AT THE TOP.]
• A lot of dedicated American basketball fans/media members know Mega Basket is now...well Dejan basically made Mega what it is today -- an NBA Draft prospect factory. Mega had 1 guy drafted in its history before Dejan, and 11 guys drafted during Dejan's tenure. Incredible stuff. Us Americans know him as the guy that coached Nikola Jokic in Serbia...I imagine we don't fully appreciate all that he did over there. To have 11 guys drafted into the NBA over a 9-season stretch from a non-EuroLeague team, especially when he did it, is so impressive. (Kevin Danna)
• Jason Dumas of KRON-TV report:
• Mike Brown: “I am absolutely heartbroken by Dejan’s passing. I had the pleasure of working with Dejan during my time with the Warriors. Not only was he an extremely talented coach, he was an even better person. I join the entire basketball community in grieving his loss. My thoughts are with his wife, Natasa, and their children, Nikola and Masa.” (Sean Cunningham)
• Jama Mahlalela with a heartfelt speech to the Raptors, diving the Toronto chain to Coach Darko, puts game chain around teary-eyed Rajakovic’s neck. Team breaks the locker room huddle with, “Family!” [IN VIDEO AT TOP OF THIS ARTICLE.]
• Croatian and Mega alum Ivaca Zubac: “Rest in peace Deki my friend”
• The National Basketball Association game scheduled for tomorrow between the Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors has been postponed due to the passing of Warriors assistant coach Dejan Milojević. The date for the rescheduled game will be announced at a later time. ESPN will now telecast the Brooklyn Nets at Los Angeles Lakers game on Friday night. (NBA PR)
• Milojevic previously worked with the Hawks, Spurs, and Rockets during Summer Leagues from 2016-18 and was in his third season as a Warriors assistant. As a player, he primarily competed for teams in Serbia, but also spent time in Spain, Turkey, and Montenegro. He was a three-time MVP of the ABA League from 2004-06. (Luke Adams, HoopsRumors)
• Nicola Vucevic (of Montenegrin descent) to Julia Poe of the Chicago Tribune: https://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/bulls/ct-chicago-bulls-nikola-vucevic-dejan-milojevic-20240118-77czff5lebdijf6z3mcdwdx6qq-story.html
“He just has a great energy,” Vučević said Thursday. “I felt like I’d known him for a long time. It’s such a tragic loss for basketball and especially for basketball back home.”
“He was a huge competitor,” Vučević said. “He just played really hard. He was an undersized four or five and made up for it with his IQ and effort.”
Vučević said he reached out to Jokić — as well as Oklahoma City Thunder guard Vasilije Micić and Miami Heat forward Nikola Jović, who also knew Milojević from Mega — to check in Wednesday.
“I know a lot of them are hurting a lot,” Vučević said. “I know it’s not easy. A lot of the younger guys that came up with him, it really touched them deeply.”
• Bogdan Bogdanovic postgame ATL-ORL: “I was thinking… not showing up tonight when I couldn’t sleep and out of my routine… then I was like, he would not want me to do that.” [IN VIDEO AT TOP OF ARTICLE.]
• Coach Michael Malone on the passing of Dejan Milojević. Malone said he was talking with Steve Kerr and Kerr wanted him to know how much Deki loved Nikola Jokić and how proud he was of him. (Katy Winge) [IN VIDEO AT TOP OF ARTICLE.]
• I'm told the reason the Warriors requested this second game-postponement is the traumatic nature of what occurred in Salt Lake City, with Dejan Milojevic collapsing during a private team dinner attended by Warriors players and staff members. (Brad Townsend)
• Connor Letourneau of the SF Chronicle with more details of the postponement and travel plans: https://www.sfchronicle.com/sports/warriors/article/warriors-mavericks-postponed-golden-state-grieves-18614969.php
According to a league source, Golden State was scheduled to fly out of Salt Lake City on Wednesday evening, but it had to stay another night because of a mechanical issue with the team plane. It plans to fly back to San Francisco later Thursday morning.
That same league source told the Chronicle that the team is struggling to process all that has happened the past couple of days. Milojevic, whom friends called “Decky,” collapsed during a private team dinner Tuesday at Valter’s Osteria restaurant in downtown Salt Lake City. An ambulance rushed him to a local hospital, where he was in critical condition until he died Wednesday.
Players and coaches spent much of Tuesday night and Wednesday morning at the hospital.
“The whole thing was very traumatic,” the source said. “Any death is tragic, but many of these guys were there when he collapsed. It’s just very hard to deal with.”
• Rick Carlisle on behalf of National Basketball Coaches Association: “An unimaginable loss. The entire coaching profession worldwide mourns the passing of Coach Milojevic and sends sincere condolences to his family.” (Jeff Zillgitt)
• Jusuf Nurkic: “R.I.P 😔😔💔” https://x.com/bosnianbeast27/status/1747719120794386823
• Luka Doncic: “Pocivaj u miru deki! 💔💔💔” https://x.com/luka7doncic/status/1747734180614885478
• Pau Gasol: “My most sincere condolences to Dejan Milojevic’s family, friends and everybody at the @warriors organization, what a tragic loss. May his memory be a blessing, rest in peace 🙏🏼” https://x.com/paugasol/status/1747733026774094247
• Karl-Anthony Towns: “My thoughts and prayers go out to Coach Milojević’s family and to the entire Golden State organization. A terrible loss for the NBA community 🙏🏽” https://x.com/karltowns/status/1747732002957041904
• Andre Iguodala: “Saddened by the loss of my brother Dejan Milojevic. Amazing HUMAN BEING! Sending condolences and prayers to his families. May he rest in peace.” https://x.com/andre/status/1747816552647504259
• Inside the NBA on TNT tribute with Ernie Johnson: VIDEO https://x.com/awfulannouncing/status/1748138289268396337
• Chase/Thrive pic:
• Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area remembers Milojevic: https://www.nbcsportsbayarea.com/nba/golden-state-warriors/remembering-dejan-milojevic/1692962/
For no one on the franchise payroll exhibited a deeper love of life than Milojević. The range of his moods seemed always to exist between great and fantastic. He was a jokester. In the two-plus years I was around him, his face offered only three expressions: Laughter, grinning, talking – if not all three simultaneously.
• Dario Saric finally posts about Milojevic on his Instagram account, which is a private account: “You rarely meet such a positive person. Always everyone's favorite player, teammate, colleague, coach, mentor... In such a short time I felt like he was my older brother. Hundreds of beautiful moments, it remains a pity that we will not experience them more. I am happy to have known you Deki. It is true, God always takes the best for himself first. Eternal glory to you my dear friend.”
• Looney finally posts a tribute: “I couldn’t have asked for a better coach, teacher and brother the last few years . It was blessing to meet and learn from you . The knowledge and wisdom you gave me will be passed on and your legacy always remembered . R.I.P Dejan”
• Bob Myers on NBA Countdown talks about Deki for about two minutes: https://x.com/kevonlooneymuse/status/1747782092178817322
• 4-minute tribute video made by a fan (contains copyrighted material, and maybe even a clip from LGW’s channel, who really knows?): https://x.com/automaticnba/status/1747975685451231516
• Warriors official tribute video:
• Just got finished talking to Nicholas Kerr down here in Santa Cruz (Friday Jan. 19th). He considered getting Lester Quinones and Jerome Robinson down here tonight for some game action since the Warriors will go over a week between games but decided against it as both of them were at the dinner where Dejan tragically passed. (Jason Dumas)
• Note: Gui Santos will play in the game in Santa Cruz. He was not on the road trip with GSW. (me)
• Ezeli tribute video:
• Shayna Rubin of the SJ Mercury talked to two people who know Milojevic very well: https://www.mercurynews.com/2024/01/19/the-legacy-left-by-dejan-milojevic-nicknamed-the-serbian-charles-barkley/
Coaches dubbed him not a “four” or “five,” but a “six” because he could outmuscle anyone at any position, Milos Jovanovic, a Serbian basketball journalist and documentarian, said.
“When you put him in he will out-rebound, out-hustle you,” Jovanovic said. “Watching him as a young player destroy people – and I mean that in a most positive sense – was a very rewarding experience because I never considered him to be an exceptional player talent-wise, but he made up for everything with hustle and earned every dime playing basketball the hard way.”
Even if not the most skilled, Milojevic was the most feared big man in basketball, or so Jovanovic learned covering basketball in Serbia for years.
“Young players (told me) the biggest adversity they faced in their playing career was practicing against Dejan,” Jovanovic said. “They’d say, ‘May god make sure we don’t have to play against him in a game because he will tear us apart.’”
“Dejan was, in my opinion, the best European power forward from 2003 to 2008,” said Miroslav Cuk, a Serbian basketball podcaster who has been following Milojevic’s career since it began with Beovuk in 1998.
Knee issues ended his playing career around age 32, but so began a coaching career that would change Serbia’s presence in the basketball world. Miško Ražnatović, a European basketball league super agent, gave Milojevic the coaching job at Mega Basket in 2012.
“Once he said that he had to prepare hard for every workout with Jokić because Nikola would do every new move perfectly on the first try,” Cuk said. “And he wanted to help him become unstoppable.”
“For us Serbians, if you’re a hoops fan, we feel proud of his achievements because it means a lot when one of us goes to the (United States) to coach the Americans,” Jovanovic said. “It’s a big thing going over as a Serbian coach and making inroads. And the fact Steve Kerr spoke highly of him at every occasion and has a huge standing in the NBA meant a lot to me.”
MORE WARRIORS POSTS ON IG STORY
Some of the younger guys have quicker reactions on Instagram Stories. To my knowledge, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green have not yet posted anything on Deki (as of this writing).
WARRIORS CHAT IN LIEU OF GSW-UTA
Hhh 0:00 RIP Deki, our footage of him: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=letsgowarriors+milojevic
7:00 on how Partizan Belgrade will honor him with free tickets to the game and wearing black on 1/22. I didn't know him but he was always there, every meeting, every shootaround, practice, etc., how we're heartbroken for the team because they're heartbroken
10:00 looking at Dejan help Dray with release point
15:00 Deki got 11 Serbians to become NBA draft picks in an 8-year span: https://x.com/kevo408/status/1747716504794411392?s=20
19:00 took a moment of silence
24:30 Bob Myers on Deki: https://twitter.com/kevonlooneymuse/status/1747782092178817322?s=46
31:30 Jake Fischer of Yahoo said that GSW was not willing to trade JK *and/or* Moody for Siakam -- that speaks volumes!
34:15 GSW was was rumored to be not willing to trade JK and/or Moody so that's the takeaway from the Siakam trade between TOR and IND, seems like we're committed to JK and Moody in the future, CBA deems it so we can control draft picks for nine years if we're willing to pay them, salary cap should continue to go up meaning the second apron will get further away as each year goes by
41:15 @Robby Bautista on if the rumors are true that Dallas is interested in Wiggins -- You're asking me to say if what Jake Fischer wrote is true. AGAIN: you MUST remember where you heard things, seek the source.
43:00 next step is always to look at the salary cap tables of each team on HoopsHype and figure out who on Dallas the Warriors would want. Barring a three-team trade (unpredictable), I don't see anyone jump off the page.
45:30 @Althea Johnson I think keep the young players.They are the future.we just need to play out this season and see what we can get comes summer.we already in a hole.if we should speak truth the vate -- We'll know more at the end of the trade deadline esp when Dunleavy takes the podium, only 8 more games or so
47:00 @Althea Johnson young guys have kept vets afloat -- Truth be told, Draymond Steph Klay on the court has been a small sample size (Dray missed 11 of 22 games to start out due to Gobert suspension and getting ejected and one DNP at DEN), in an interview with Tom Tolbert yesterday, Steve thought maybe Wiggins came into the season out of rhythm due to all that happened last season
49:00 Dray really has played maybe 12-13 games total 100%, is that enough? But it might have to be enough coming with the trade deadline Feb 8th, use bkref to find out all the games where Dray played 30+ mins and had an impact on the game, ask yourself if that's a sample size that's enough to determine if the Trinity is broken
53:00 we can't say their broken just like we can't say it's working just from Q1
54:00 Bob Myers will be at Chase Friday
56:00 @Johnson Weaver Smith on only deal being finagling a big man -- Are we sure that Joe Mike Steve have determined it's time to go away from the Trinity to a big man?
57:45 Klay doesn't hunt shots anymore because of the nurturing of Steve, Kerr's interview yesterday with Tom Tolbert seems to reinforce that type of culture and it does NOT seem like they'd switch the paradigm to finding a big man
59:30 @Althea Johnson playing sports you have to be mentally and physically ready.Don't know if wiggins is going through anything we don't know about.clay is up and down.i can't believe we lost bye Grizzlies -- Yeah, so that's up to Mike to see if he wants to deal Wiggs. I leave it up to him because these are tough decisions. I'd rather not be a GM.
1:03:00 on enjoying the moment and never being extreme, always learning
1:07:00 SF Chronicle Connor Letourneau wrote that the Warriors would fly back "later Wed"
1:10:00 Cholo: IMO, dubs should work on their PoA and team defense before looking for a rim protector. rim protector seems like a last resort. which confirms Dray's assessment of their defense.
1:11:11 We send CP3 to Toronto and get Bruce Brown and Otto Porter back, Masai gets rid of Otto, gets a more tradeable contract (probably, I'm not sure how team options work but 6/29/24 is the deadline to opt-in)
1:18:30 @Johnson Weaver Smith on Dwight Powell for Wiggins: $24m vs $4m, you got a lot more homework to do to imagine a Powell trade!
1:21:00 idea in the rotation is for BP to take CP's spot and Brown to take BP's spot
1:23:45 Bruce Maro: target Kuzma Stewart Caruso
1:25:00 Dean Chambers: How about CP3 & Saric for LaVine, & Wiggins, Cojo, Santos for Bojan Bogdanovic?
1:27:00 @Bruce Maro we want to play Moody not Bruce Brown: For defense to protect a lead down the stretch. remember, Moody POA is stil suspect
1:28:45 @Dek Tabz Warriors need a "dynamic scorer" -- Do they? JK is not that? "Dynamic scorer" not named KD can play in Trinity system? Wiggs salary slot has depreciated from KD level oh well
1:35:00 reminder that the themes are 1) you can't predict, 2) we have a small sample size so be patient at least til trade deadline, and 3) return to gratitude for this team
1:47:30 key takeaway from Siakam: Moody has some real value with us
1:49:30 anytime you talk about Moody, you need to talk about...
1:50:00 on Klay, I don't see him making more than Dray and how about if we all agree for him to just get paid what he's worth the day he signs? No indication from his dad or his camp to me that Klay won't want to remain a Warrior, that's Klay betting on himself is fine because that's what ballers do
1:59:00 Dean Chambers: Klay should be allowed to play for the best contact he can get without a number hanging over him. Let's not think he can't improve. I mean, what Klay starts playing amazing!? -- agents do use stats in negotiations (in comps)
2:28:00 Johnson Weaver Smith: Moody situation is weird. That’s one place I shake my head with Kerr. Moody always plays good then gets benched. Klay can play 3 also!
2:30:00 long essay on Steve Kerr, belief in your guys, the American way of if it ain't broke don't fix it and "til the wheels fall off", example: SF bike lanes after many deaths
2:43:15 old Looney Q&A that delves on Deki
(Nov 29, 2021)
2:48:15 turns out it was me who asked Loon the Deki question
2:52:00 my Jeremy Lin story emanating Hilton Armstrong story which was in the Looney Q&A
2:56:15 Dubs Talk Podcast: Monte Poole says that the league might postpone fridays game against DallasSays e doesn’t think the Warriors will be “mentally ready” to play against Dallas
3:00:00 special send-off of Klay saying Let's Go Warriors
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