Dejan Milojević, Golden State Warriors assistant coach, dies after heart attack at 46

Milojević had a "medical emergency at a private team dinner," the team said. The NBA postponed Wednesday night's Warriors-Jazz game.

Golden State Warriors assistant coach Dejan Milojević during a preseason game in San Francisco in October 2022.Jeff Chiu / AP file

Golden State Warriors assistant coach Dejan Milojević died Wednesday, officials said, after he suffered a heart attack at dinner the night before in Salt Lake City.

The Warriors–Utah Jazz game, set for 7 p.m. MT Wednesday at the Delta Center, had been postponed shortly after the team announced that Milojević, 46, was hospitalized Tuesday night, having suffered “a medical emergency at a private team dinner.”

He had a heart attack and died late Wednesday morning, the team said.

"We are absolutely devastated by Dejan Milojević’s sudden passing," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said in a statement issued by the team. "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."

Kerr said Milojević was a relentlessly upbeat person "who brought joy" to others every day.

"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," Kerr said. "We grieve with and for his wife, Natasa, and their children, Nikola and Masa. Their loss is unfathomable.” 

Milojević was hired in 2021 after a coaching and decorated playing career in Europe.

Milojević, a 6-foot-7 Belgrade native known as "Coach Decky" to the Warriors, was tasked with working with Golden State's centers and power forwards.

"He's been so valuable for me," Kerr said last year. "It's been great to watch Decky develop as a coach as he's gotten more comfortable with the language, with the culture, with our group. The guys love him. The players love him."

Milojević had been credited with the development of Warriors center Kevon Looney.

On a team fueled by flashy perimeter players like Steph Curry, it was Milojević's protégé Looney who might have played the difference-making role in Golden State's 2022 NBA title.

When Looney was on the floor that championship series, the Warriors outscored the Boston Celtics by 48 points. It was the best plus-minus rating of any player in the series.

Looney last year said Milojević was particularly acute at identifying small elements for him to sharpen, especially in offensive rebounding and scoring close to the rim.

"I think those details really did take me to the next level," he said.

The team prides itself on open communication and making the workplace enjoyable, Kerr said.

"Decky embodies all of that," he said. "He loves the game. He loves people. He loves to laugh and everyday at our meetings, he brings his joy and positivity that is infections."

The Warriors' next scheduled game is Friday in San Francisco against the Dallas Mavericks.

Wednesday's night postponed game against the Jazz will be rescheduled, the league said.