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On January 17, the Golden State Warriors lost a beloved member, assistant coach Dejan Milojevic. After a sudden heart attack during a team dinner in Utah, the Serbian coach was rushed to a hospital in Salt Lake City, where he took his final breath at the age of forty-six. In his honor, for the entire season, every member of the Warriors franchise wore T-shirts with Dejan’s initials and the word “BRATE” (Brother in Serbian) on the chest. And tonight, paying a silent tribute to Dejan, Nuggets star Nikola Jokic was also spotted wearing the same T-shirt during his appearance on Inside The NBA to receive his third MVP trophy.

While their paths did not cross professionally in the NBA, Jokic and Milojevic shared a deep connection way before the Nuggets star turned into The Joker. With both sharing Serbian roots, the late coach took Nikola Jokic under his wing when he was just a teenager trying to find his footing in the basketball world. Then, as the coach of the Serbian club Mega Basket for eight years, Milojevic did wonders with a young Jokic after he joined the club in 2012, even helping him become the MVP of the Adriatic Basketball League three years later.

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In 2015 when Jokic left the Serbian club and took a giant leap, the influence of Dejan’s coaching was still very visible in his NBA game. In an appearance on The Basketball Podcast, Milojevic described his compatriot’s mentality when they first met. He reminisced, saying, “I’m not sure he believed in himself from the very beginning.” In those 3 years together, Jokic improved his conditioning and strengthened his fundamentals, eventually paving his 3x MVP path.

“Bigger than life” Dejan Milojevic meant a lot to Nikola Jokic and many from the NBA Community

Tonight was not the first time Jokic showed his love and admiration for his mentor. Rolling back the clock, just a few days after Dejan passed away, The Joker was still in shock and requested privacy from the media. He wanted to process the grief. The MVP said, “I don’t want to make a circus of it.” He also did not want Dejan’s family to go through any unnecessary hassle. “My whole family was shocked… I love his whole family.”

Not only Nikola Jokic but several from the NBA community, especially the Warriors franchise, were heartbroken. Having worked with Dejan for three years since 2021, Stephen Curry and Co. had a tough time dealing with it. Former Warriors President Bob Myers was also devastated by the tragic news, “It hurts… It’s just hard because he was this bigger-than-life person, and he would light up a room.”

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Stephen Curry couldn’t forget the impact Dejan had on his life. Along with a tribute carousel, Steph also wrote, “No words to describe the loss of our Brate! Brother forever. Thank you for the impact you left on us all.”

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With so many players grieving and paying tribute to Dejan Milojevic, it just shows how he was admired. As he is no longer with us, the legacy he left will continue to impact all those he interacted with during his lifetime!

Rest in Peace, Dejan Milojevic.