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.
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 NBAEdit
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. 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 future Basketball 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.
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.
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.
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.
- In 2006, he worked for the New York Knicks as an international scout.
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