The Golden State Warriors will be without Steve Kerr for their game against the Utah Jazz on what is a deeply emotional day for the entire team. The head coach is in Belgrade, Serbia to attend the funeral of assistant coach Dejan Milojevic, according to Kendra Andrews of ESPN.
Warriors general manager Mike Dunleavy Jr., assistant coaches Chris DeMarco and Ron Adams and basketball operations consultant Zaza Pachulia have all made the trip to Milojevic’s home country as well. Assistant and former Brooklyn Nets HC Kenny Atkinson will fill in for Kerr on Monday night in the Delta Center.
Milojevic unexpectedly died of a heart attack on Jan. 17 at the age of 46 in Salt Lake City. Golden State was slated to play the Jazz before the tragic turn of events. The team postponed its next two games as the entire community mourned the loss.
Milojevic enjoyed a highly successful playing career overseas and was named ABA League MVP three times (resided in then-Yugoslavia, now-Serbia and Montenegro). He transitioned to coaching, won the Montenegrin Cup as HC of Buducnost and ultimately caught on with the Dubs.
Dejan Milojevic signed a multi-year contract with the Warriors to be their new assistant coach in 2021 and quickly formed a strong connection with players. His presence and tutelage immediately paid dividends when they defeated the Boston Celtics for the NBA championship in 2022.
The Warriors will obviously be playing for more than just a win on Monday. While Steve Kerr and others grieve with Milojevic’s family in Serbia, Golden State will be running high on emotions in this painful visit back to Utah.