The Warriors have been dealing with the tragic passing of assistant coach Dejan Milojevic and Steve Kerr has opened up about how it’s impacted the team.
“Heartbreaking. Devastating,” Kerr said. “It’s just the saddest thing I’ve ever been a part of in the NBA. We lose someone who is so close to us, and then, more importantly, seeing his family suffer. This last week has been … full of all of the above. The shock, the emotion, the extreme outpouring of love.”
Milojevic, or Deki, as he was affectionately called, died of cardiac arrest last Wednesday in Salt Lake City.
The whole team was at dinner on Tuesday night before their game against the Jazz the next day when Milojevic had a heart attack in front of them.
“It’s a pretty terrible thing to witness,” Kerr said.
There was no defibrillator at the restaurant, or at business next door and lifesaving measures couldn’t revive him.
He was just 46 years of age.
“Everybody on our team and everybody in our organization is traumatized,” Kerr said. “Part of life it that you experience loss. Everyone is going to experience loss at some point in their life. But it doesn’t often happen in front of you. And it doesn’t often happen to someone with kids. And it doesn’t happen often where it’s someone who is so beloved worldwide.
“So, everything that’s happened over the last five days has been just jarring. Just incredibly emotional, powerful, and more than anything, heartbreaking.”
Wednesday night against the Hawks will be the first time the Warriors will take the floor without their beloved assistant.
But Kerr knows exactly what kind of motivation Milojevic would provide if he was there.
“I literally could picture Deki smiling and laughing and saying, ‘You motherf***ers need to go win a basketball game.’ And then laughing,” Kerr said.
“That’s exactly what he would have said with a smile on his face. He would’ve laughed. He would’ve, win or lose, still been smiling and laughing and having great suggestions of what we can do differently. But he really embodied the spirit and the values that we try to display as a team and as an organization.”