Žan Tabak

Žan Tabak (born 15 June 1970) is a Croatian professional basketball coach and former player. He is currently serving as a head coach for San Pablo Burgos of the Liga ACB and the Slovakia national team. 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 teams.[1] Žan Tabak averaged 5.0 points in his 6-year NBA career.[2]

Žan Tabak
Zan Tabak.JPG
Tabak in 2008
San Pablo Burgos
PositionHead coach
LeagueLiga ACB
Basketball Champions League
Personal information
Born (1970-06-15) 15 June 1970 (age 51)
Split, SR Croatia, SFR Yugoslavia
Listed height7 ft 0 in (2.13 m)
Listed weight245 lb (111 kg)
Career information
NBA draft1991 / Round: 2 / Pick: 51st overall
Selected by the Houston Rockets
Playing career1985–2005
Number55, 3
Coaching career2006–present
Career history
As player:
1985–1992Jugoplastika / Pop 84 / Slobodna Dalmacija
1992–1993Baker Livorno
1993–1994Recoaro Milano
1994–1995Houston Rockets
19951998Toronto Raptors
1998Boston Celtics
19992001Indiana Pacers
2001–2002Real Madrid
2002–2004Joventut Badalona
2005Unicaja Málaga
As coach:
2006–2009Real Madrid (assistant)
2009–2011Sevilla (assistant)
2011–2012Sant Josep Girona
2012Trefl Sopot
2013–2015Real Madrid (assistant)
2015–2016Maccabi Tel Aviv
2019–2021Stelmet Zielona Góra
Career highlights and awards
As player

As assistant coach:

As head coach

Career NBA statistics
Points1,233 (5.0 ppg)
Rebounds883 (3.6 rpg)
Assists165 (0.7 apg)
Stats Edit this at Wikidata at NBA.com
Stats at Basketball-Reference.com

Early careerEdit

Born in Split, SR Croatia, SFR Yugoslavia, Tabak's father-in-law Ratomir Tvrdić was a top European basketball player, his wife played first-division basketball for Croatia, and his younger brother played professionally in Croatia.[3]

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, Rīgas ASK, some thirty years before.[4]

Rađa and Kukoč were 2nd-round selections in the 1989 and 1990 National Basketball Association (NBA) Drafts, respectively.

Professional careerEdit

Houston Rockets (1991–1995)Edit

Tabak was selected by the Houston Rockets with the 24th pick in the second round (51st overall) of the 1991 NBA Draft. He did not immediately play for Houston, however, opting instead to spend another year in Croatia with SD Split.

Return to Europe (1991–1994)Edit

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.[5]

Return to NBA (1994–1998)Edit

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 as Tabak won his first and only NBA championship.

Toronto Raptors (1995–1998)Edit

In the 1995 expansion draft, Tabak was selected by the Toronto Raptors.

On February 25, 1996 Tabak recorded a career high 16 rebounds in a 98–105 loss to the Dallas Mavericks.[6]

On March 27, 1996 Tabak dropped a career high 26 points in a 94–103 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.[7]

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. As for the Raptors, the franchise had an expectably bad season ending with a sub-par 21–61 record and missing the playoffs. Tabak did not fare well in the following season, either; plantar fasciitis in his left foot restricted his appearances to thirteen games.[3]

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 February 1998.[3]

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."[8]

Post-NBA careerEdit

Tabak spent the remaining four years of his playing career in Spain with Real Madrid, DKV Joventut, and Unicaja Málaga.He maintained 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 2006, he worked for the New York Knicks as an international scout.[9]

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.[10]

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.

On June 30, 2021, he has signed with San Pablo Burgos of the Liga ACB.[11]


In the mid-1990s, Tabak married Gorana Tvrdić, daughter of retired professional basketball player Rato Tvrdić, having met her several years earlier while playing for KK Split.[12] The couple has three children and has been residing in Madrid since 2001.[12]

In March 2020, Tabak's wife Gorana contracted COVID-19 in Madrid and within weeks developed severe symptoms for which she was intubated and placed in a 16-day induced coma.[13] By late April 2020, her condition improved and she got released for home rehabilitation.[13]

References and notesEdit

  1. ^ JS Online: Hall snubs leave a few questions
  2. ^ "Zan Tabak". Retrieved 31 July 2016.
  3. ^ a b c NBA.com: Zan Tabak Bio Archived 2008-03-02 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Real Madrid C.F. Web Oficial - Real Madrid C.F. Official Web Site
  5. ^ Lega A Basket
  6. ^ "Toronto Raptors at Dallas Mavericks Box Score, February 25, 1996". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2020-05-29.
  7. ^ "Toronto Raptors at Philadelphia 76ers Box Score, March 27, 1996". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2020-05-29.
  8. ^ HoopsHype - Interviews - Zan Tabak: "Pitino made some wrong choices about players"
  9. ^ ¿Qué fue de Zan Tabak? - Solobasket.com 3.0
  10. ^ Zan Tabak toma las riendas del Caja Laboral
  11. ^ "Hereda San Pablo Burgos announces Žan Tabak". Sportando. June 30, 2021. Retrieved June 30, 2021.
  12. ^ a b R., V. (12 January 2018). "Žan Tabak i supruga Gorana otvaraju akademiju: Naša su djeca imala strog odgoj, ali..." TPortal.hr. Retrieved 2 May 2020.
  13. ^ a b Marković, Ivica (2 May 2020). "Potresna ispovijest supruge Žana Tabaka koja je jedva preživjela 'koronu': Morali su mi probiti rupu u grlu i bila sam nepokretna, htjela sam umrijeti". Slobodna Dalmacija. Retrieved 2 May 2020.

External linksEdit