Dejan Milojević

Raptors coach Rajaković delivers touching Milojević tribute vs. Heat

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Dejan Milojević's sudden death this week sent shockwaves through the NBA world.

Toronto Raptors coach Darko Rajaković was among those who knew Milojević best, having a friendship with the late Warriors assistant that spanned decades to when the pair were teenagers.

Rajaković delivered a touching tribute to Milojević during Toronto's 121-97 win over the Miami Heat on Wednesday night at Scotiabank Arena, dialing up an opening play that his friend inspired.

"Opening play in the game was ATO that [Milojević], my friend, I learned that play from him, and that's what he brought to the NBA," Rajaković told reporters after the game. "That's what he brought to Golden State. I stole that play from him. That was our opening play tonight, and we were able to score on that one, so I dedicated our team win to our team and to Deki."

Under Rajaković, the Raptors have started a postgame tradition of awarding a chain to a player or staff member to acknowledge special contributions to the team's culture and identity. After Wednesday's win, Raptors assistant Jama Mahlalela, who coached with Milojević on the Warriors' staff during their 2021-22 NBA title run, awarded Rajaković the chain.

Milojević had a decorated basketball career as a player and a coach, including three consecutive Adriatic Basketball Association Most Valuable Player Awards from 2003 to 2006. He also served as head coach of Serbian side Mega Basket of the ABA, where he coached two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokić.

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