SAN FRANCISCO — The Golden State Warriors honored late assistant coach Dejan Milojevic prior to Wednesday’s matchup with the Atlanta Hawks, the first game since his death a week ago. Both the Warriors and Hawks wore shirts with the word “Brate” on the front — Serbian for “brother” — and Milojevic’s nickname, Deki, on the back.
The pregame tribute began with a video montage comprised of interviews from various Warriors, other NBA players and coaches, and Milojevic himself. Before the video, Warriors players removed their “Brate” shirts to reveal Golden State jerseys with Milojevic’s name on the back.
Afterward, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr addressed the crowd, describing the joy and laughter that Milojevic brought to the team in his three years as an assistant with Golden State.
“The world lost a beautiful soul last week. Deki was a wonderful friend. A hell of a basketball coach, a great man and most importantly a beautiful grandson, son, husband and father,” Kerr said. “The mark that he has left on our organization over the last three years — you just saw all the pictures — that was him every day. The smile, the joy, the laughter, it was ever-present. What he meant to us is a huge part of who we are as our heart and our soul.”
Kerr then asked the Chase Center crowd to forego the customary moment of silence in favor of “an ovation that he can hear up in heaven.” The crowd obliged, resulting in a heartfelt round of applause, cheers and even some “Deki” chants.
After the playing of the Serbian national anthem, a spotlight shined on a “Brate” shirt laying on Milojevic’s usual chair on the Warriors sideline. His widow and two children were seated in the seats of general manager Mike Dunleavy Jr. a few rows behind the bench.
Milojevic, who was 46, suffered a heart attack at a private team dinner last Tuesday in Salt Lake City. After being hospitalized, he passed away late Wednesday morning. Prior to his coaching career, Milojevic had a memorable tenure as a player, earning the nickname “The Serbian Charles Barkley” along the way.
The Warriors had their previous two games against the Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks postponed after Milojevic’s death. The league has not yet announced make-up dates.