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Žan Tabak
Position Center
Height 7 ft 0 in (2.13 m)
Weight 245 lb (111 kg)
Born June 15, 1970 (1970-06-15) (age 39)
Split, SR Croatia, SFR Yugoslavia
Nationality Croatian
Draft 2nd round, 51st overall, 1991
Houston Rockets
Pro career 1985[1]–2005
Former teams Jugoplastika/Pop 84/Slobodna Dalmacija Split (1985–92)
Baker Livorno (1992–93)
Recoaro Milano (1993–94)
Houston Rockets (1994–95)
Toronto Raptors (1995–98)
Boston Celtics (1998)
Fenerbahçe (1998–99)
Indiana Pacers (1999–2001)
Real Madrid (2001–02)
DKV Joventut (2002–04)
Unicaja Málaga (2004–05)
Olympic medal record
Men's Basketball
Silver 1992 Barcelona Team
European Championships
Bronze 1993 Germany Croatia

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.


Early career

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.[2]

Between the draft and the NBA

Rađa and Kukoć 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.

Along with previous Split teammates and Dražen Petrović, Tabak and the Croatian team performed well and won the silver medal; they were bested only by the star-studded United States Dream 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.[3]

NBA career

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 back-up for another foreign center, 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.[4]

After another average start and a transverse fracture to a metacarpal bone in his right hand, Tabak was traded in a seven-player deal to the Boston Celtics in the February of 1998.[4]

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."[5]

Post-NBA career

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 premier league's championship.


  • Reportedly, Tabak's father-in-law was a top European basketball player, his wife played first-division basketball for Croatia, and his younger brother played professionally in Croatia.[4]
  • He was the first international player to play in the NBA Finals for two different teams.[6]
  • In 2006, he worked for the New York Knicks as an international scout.[7]


  1. ^ Tabak, Zan
  2. ^ Real Madrid C.F. Web Oficial - Real Madrid C.F. Official Web Site
  3. ^ Lega A Basket
  4. ^ a b c Zan Tabak Bio
  5. ^ HoopsHype - Interviews - Zan Tabak: "Pitino made some wrong choices about players"
  6. ^ JS Online: Hall snubs leave a few questions
  7. ^ ¿Qué fue de Zan Tabak? - 3.0


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