Žan Tabak in 2008
|No. 55, 3|
June 15, 1970 |
Split, SR Croatia, SFR Yugoslavia
|Listed height||7 ft 0 in (2.13 m)|
|Listed weight||245 lb (111 kg)|
|NBA draft||1991 / Round: 2 / Pick: 51st overall|
|Selected by the Houston Rockets|
|Pro playing career||1985–2005|
|1985–1992||KK Split (Jugoplastika / Pop 84 / Slobodna Dalmacija)|
|1992–1993||Libertas Livorno (Baker)|
|1993–1994||Olimpia Milano (Recoaro)|
|2005||CB Málaga (Unicaja)|
|2006–2009||Real Madrid (assistant)|
|2009–2011||CB Sevilla (assistant)|
|2011–2012||Sant Josep Girona (Spain 2nd)|
|2012–2013||Saski Baskonia (Caja Laboral)|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NBA statistics|
|Points||1,233 (5.0 ppg)|
|Rebounds||883 (3.6 rpg)|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
Žan Tabak (born June 15, 1970 in Split, SR Croatia, SFR Yugoslavia) is a retired Croatian professional basketball player. His basketball career, spanning twenty years, was marked by several notable achievements, despite injuries.
He was the first international player to play in the NBA Finals for two different teams.
Žan Tabak began his basketball career in 1985, at the age of fifteen, making his debut with the Jugoplastika Split organization. Only a few years later, he and Split teammates Dino Rađa and Toni Kukoč led the club to three consecutive European Championships (1989–91), a feat only equaled in Euroleague's storied history by its first champions, ASK Riga, some thirty years before.
Between the draft and the NBA
Rađa and Kukoč were 2nd-round selections in the 1989 and 1990 National Basketball Association (NBA) Drafts, respectively. The Houston Rockets followed suit, drafting Tabak with the 24th pick in the draft's second round (51st overall) in the 1991 NBA Draft. He did not immediately play for Houston, however, opting instead to spend another year in Croatia with SD Split.
On June 25, 1991, Croatia, along with Slovenia, decided to end relationships with the other republics of the Yugoslavia. The newly independent state, then, was able to send its own athletes to the 1992 Summer Olympic Games; this delegation also included a national basketball team.
After Barcelona, Tabak continued with his career, spending two years in the Italian Serie A league. In his years there, Tabak shot the ball extremely well, with a field goal percentage of over 60%. He also averaged a double-double in points and rebounds in both the 1992–93 season for Baker Livorno and in the 1993–94 season for Recoaro Milano.
Over three years after he was drafted by them, Tabak was signed by the Rockets on July 20, 1994. With nine years of experience, he played his first NBA minutes on November 5, 1994. As a "rookie", he saw limited playing time, averaging less than five minutes per game in thirty-seven appearances. He spent the season as a backup to Hakeem Olajuwon, who led Houston to the franchise's second NBA title that year.
In the subsequent year's expansion draft (1995), Tabak was selected by the Toronto Raptors. He started several games and saw increased playing time, but a strained left groin kept him from competing during the close of the 1995–96 season. Tabak did not fare well in the following season, either; plantar fasciitis in his left foot restricted his appearances to thirteen games.
Tabak played in Turkey for Fenerbahçe during the next year. He then returned to the NBA and signed with the Indiana Pacers. As back-up to Rik Smits, Tabak contributed to the Pacers' appearance in the 2000 NBA Finals, which was ultimately won by the Los Angeles Lakers.
The 2000-01 season was to be Tabak's last in the NBA, despite improved numbers and increased playing time. When asked about his decision to return to European basketball Tabak said "...I wanted to come back [to Europe] because I felt I was 31 years old and I was feeling my career was coming to the end. I didn't want to finish my career being just one of the players. I wanted to be an important player in my team."
Tabak spent the remaining four years of his playing career in Spain with Real Madrid, DKV Joventut, and Unicaja Málaga. He still modeled a high caliber of play during his later career. Even as he won with Split and the Rockets in his earlier days, he ended twenty years of professional basketball also as a winner: along with Jorge Garbajosa, Tabak helped Málaga to win the 2005 King's Cup, the Spanish national cup trophy.
In 2011, he debuted as head coach with Sant Josep Girona of the LEB Oro league. In 2012 he moved to Poland where he became the head coach of the 2011-12 Polish league runner-up Trefl Sopot. In November 2012, he became head coach of Saski Baskonia.
With the Spanish squad, he achieved a 17-game winning streak for games played in both the Euroleague and the Liga ACB. After being eliminated in the 2012–13 season quarterfinals, Baskonia announced that Tabak would not continue as head coach.
References and notes
- NBA.com: Zan Tabak Bio
- JS Online: Hall snubs leave a few questions
- ¿Qué fue de Zan Tabak? - Solobasket.com 3.0
- Real Madrid C.F. Web Oficial - Real Madrid C.F. Official Web Site
- Lega A Basket
- HoopsHype - Interviews - Zan Tabak: "Pitino made some wrong choices about players"
- Zan Tabak toma las riendas del Caja Laboral