Miha Zupan (born September 13, 1982) is a Slovenian former professional basketball player. He played among hearing players at the highest level in Europe, despite being deaf since birth. He is a 2.05 m (6 ft 8+3⁄4 in) power forward who can also play center when needed. He is the only deaf person to play in professional basketball league and in the EuroCup. Miha Zupan has competed at the Deaflympics on 5 occasions from 1997 to 2017.
|Born||September 13, 1982|
Kranj, SR Slovenia, SFR Yugoslavia
|Listed height||6 ft 8.75 in (2.05 m)|
|Listed weight||250 lb (113 kg)|
|NBA draft||2004 / Undrafted|
|Position||Power forward / Center|
|2010–2012||Spartak St. Petersburg|
|Career highlights and awards|
Zupan spent most of his childhood in a special school for the deaf, eventually learning to speak. A type of hearing aid would later give him enough hearing to understand speech. He did not learn to play basketball until age 14, instead playing football and volleyball. After his first basketball coach spotted him in a schoolyard, he took to the game quickly, soon joining Slovenia's national basketball team for the deaf, which twice made the finals of the European championships with Zupan as its star. He was selected to represent Slovenia at the Deaflympics in 1997 and competed in his maiden Deaflympic competition at the age of 15. He was part of the Slovenian deaf basketball team which finished 5th in the 1997 Summer Deaflympics. At the age of 17, he signed his first contract with a regular professional team, KD Slovan of Ljubljana. During his teenage years, he grew 20 cm (8 inches) in an 18-month period, leading to knee problems that sidelined him for several months early in his pro career.
At Slovan he developed into a promising big man, soon making the (regular) Slovenia junior and under-20 national teams. He played in the Slovenian League All-Star Game in 2004 and 2006, earning MVP honors in the 2004 game and also winning the slam dunk contest associated with the 2004 game. He continued to play for the Slovenia national deaf team, leading them to the 2004 European championship.
In the 2005–06 season with Slovan, he averaged 11.5 points and 4.4 rebounds in Slovenian League play. His statistics in the Adriatic League were arguably more impressive, considering that he played only 23 minutes per game in that competition; he averaged 13.2 points and 3.9 rebounds and also shot 47.3% from three-point range.
Zupan signed with Union Olimpija, also of Ljubljana, in the 2006 offseason, fulfilling what he called one of his lifelong dreams. He also barely missed out on a trip to the 2006 FIBA World Championship, becoming the last player cut from the Slovenia squad. His chance to play for Olimpija in the Euroleague was on hold for several months because his transfer became the subject of litigation between them and Slovan. He had, apparently inadvertently, failed to revoke his contract with Slovan before signing with Olimpija. Olimpija had registered him at the start of the 2006–07 season, and he played six fixtures in the Adriatic League before Slovan contested the registration. Olimpija won the first round of the legal battle in August 2006, but on October 23, an appellate court set aside the decision and ordered a new trial. Olimpija announced that it would appeal the ruling. This ruling also, for the time being, prevented him from becoming the first deaf player ever to play in the Euroleague, as he had been scheduled to play in Olimpija's first game of Euroleague regular-season play against Croatian side Cibona on October 26, 2006.
The legal battle raged until late February 2007, when Olimpija and Slovan reached a settlement. After Olimpija paid an undisclosed fee to Slovan, they finally registered him officially on March 1. The settlement proved timely for Olimpija, as they had seen six players leave the team during the season, and had two other players out with injury. While Zupan was unable to play during the 2006-07 Euroleague, as Olimpija had been eliminated by the time of the settlement, he arrived in time for the late rounds of the Adriatic League and for the second stage of the Slovenian domestic league.
On October 24, 2007, Zupan finally became the first deaf player in the Euroleague, appearing for Olimpija in their 80–52 loss at Montepaschi Siena in the opening week of regular season play in the 2007-08 Euroleague. He had 5 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists in slightly over 13 minutes of action off the bench.
In July 2010 he signed a two-year deal with Spartak SPB in Russia. In the same year, he was awarded the ICSD Deaf Sportsman of the Year by the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf as he topped the list with 60 points.
On January 1, 2016, he signed with Liga Nationala team CSM Oradea.
On July 31, 2017, Zupan signed he signed with Helios Suns. After four games he parted ways with Helios Suns on October 28, 2017.
- Lance Allred, a deaf American basketball player who also plays professionally alongside hearing people
- "Deaflympics 2017 Samsun". deaflympics2017.org (in Turkish). Retrieved February 10, 2018.
- "Miha Zupan | Deaflympics". www.deaflympics.com. Retrieved February 10, 2018.
- "Men's basketball | 1997 Summer Deaflympics". www.deaflympics.com.
- "Euroleague.net profile: Miha Zupan". Euroleague. October 24, 2006.
- "Miha Zupan". Union Olimpija. Archived from the original on September 2, 2009. Retrieved October 26, 2007.
- "Men's basketball | 2001 Summer Deaflympics". www.deaflympics.com. Retrieved February 10, 2018.
- "Men's basketball | 2005 Summer Deaflympics". www.deaflympics.com. Retrieved February 10, 2018.
- "Olimpija lands forward Zupan". Euroleague. June 23, 2006.
- Ličen, Simon (March 6, 2007). "Zupan's saga unfolds as sixth player leaves Olimpija". Basketball Federation of Slovenia. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007.
- "The court cancelled the previous decision regarding Miha Zupan". Adriatic League. October 23, 2006. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007.
- "Box score, Cibona-Union Olimpija". Euroleague. October 26, 2006. (Note the absence of Zupan from the Olimpija team listing.)
- "Regular Season, Week 1 review". Euroleague. October 25, 2007. Retrieved October 26, 2007.
- "Box score, Montepaschi Siena-Union Olimpija". Euroleague. October 24, 2007.
- Astrikala.gr Ο MIHA ZUPAN ΣΤΟΝ ΑΣ ΤΡΙΚΑΛΑ. (in Greek)[permanent dead link]
- Miha Zupan inks with Spartak SPB
- "2010 ICSD Deaf Sportman of the Year | Deaflympics". www.deaflympics.com. Archived from the original on February 1, 2014. Retrieved February 10, 2018.
- Turk Telekom Ankara, firmato Miha Zupan
- Oradea signs Miha Zupan
- Naft Abadan signs Miha Zupan, ex Helios