Three-time Serbian Player of the Year and current Atlanta Hawks guard Bogdan Bogdanović delivered a strong performance off the bench during Wednesday night’s win over the Orlando Magic. Bogdanovic played 24 minutes and finished with 12 points.
But Bogdanović was playing with a heavy heart, saying his mind was on his friend, Golden State Warriors assistant coach and fellow Serbian Dejan Milojević, who died after having a heart attack at the age of 46.
Hawks star Dejounte Murray made a basket at the buzzer to lift the Hawks to a thrilling 106-104 victory, but Bogdanović has virtually no memory of the game.
“I don’t even know what I did tonight,” said Bogdanović. “I remember warmups. I don’t know what I was doing. I forgot a couple of my routines.”
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Bogdan Bogdanović, right, hugs Dejounte Murray of the Atlanta Hawks at the conclusion of the Atlanta Hawks’ 106-104 victory over the Orlando Magic at State Farm Arena Jan. 17, 2024, in Atlanta. (Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
Bogdanović stood somberly alongside his teammates as a moment of silence was observed before the game.
Bogdanović recalled feeling like he was merely going through the motions at times during the game. He struggled to comprehend Milojević was gone.
“Like everyone else in Serbia, we couldn’t believe the news,” he said. “Because that guy was a beast. Always positive.”
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The 31-year-old Bogdanović never got a chance to play for Milojević after he began his coaching career, but they went against each other numerous times as players. Their shared homeland gave them a natural bond.
Bogdanović especially admired the way Milojević carried himself away from the court.
“It’s such a sad thing to see how much impact he had on a lot of players, people around the world,” Bogdanović said. “One thing that I will never, never forget is he never chased his career.”
Milojević won three consecutive MVP awards in the Adriatic League.
“He was a great player, but he never chased his career,” Bogdanović said. “He always wanted to live a family lifestyle with his kids in the good cities. He never chased money. I feel that’s a great example for everyone.
“He believed that if you don’t like your life, there is no way you can perform in your job, you cannot maximize your job,” the Hawks guard added. “You cannot maximize your potential if you’re not happy in your life because sometimes people value more their jobs and some other stuff.”
Milojević was in his third season on the Warriors’ coaching staff. He previously coached in Serbia, where he once worked with Nikola Jokić before the two-time NBA MVP came to the United States, as well as Montenegro.
Bogdanović briefly considered sitting out Atlanta’s game against the Magic to deal with his grief. But he decided to play after realizing taking the court would be the more fitting tribute to the man he greatly admired.
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“I was thinking about not showing up tonight when I couldn’t sleep and I was out of my routine,” Bogdanović said. “But then I was like, ‘He would not want me to do that.’”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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