Obscure Athletes

Where the 15 Minutes of Fame Never End

Obscure Spotlight: Bryant “Big Country” Reeves

I have one memory of Bryant Reeves, and that is from January 15, 1998, when the 7 foot, bear-looking man himself came to the Fleet Center in Boston with the Vancouver Grizzlies, and proceeded to  drop 41 on the Celtics.  To me he was forever a big jerk. But to everyone else, Bryant Reeves was a 6th overall draft pick, and a young NBA big man with seemingly unlimited potential.

Remember how sick those Vancouver Grizzlies jerseys were?

Bryant Reeves grew up in Gans, Oklahoma and went to school close to home, at Oklahoma State. There he averaged 21.5 points per game in his college career, highlighted by OSU’s trip to the Final Four during his senior year in 1995. Two and a half months later, in the ’95 draft, Reeves was selected sixth overall by the Vancouver Grizzlies, and was immediately plugged into the Center position by the young team.

Reeves’ performance his rookie season landed him on the NBA’s all-rookie second team, averaging 13.3 points per game. In his second season, Reeves continued to improve, this time posting 16.2 points per game, after which he was given a six-year, $62 million extension. After one more solid season in Vancouver, Reeves’ health and weight became concerns, and over the next three seasons would miss significant playing time due to several injuries, including a chronic back ailment.

The end of the Grizz’ run in Vancouver proved to be the end of Bryant Reeves’ career in the NBA. Big Country never played a game for the Grizzlies after they moved to Memphis, save for two exhibition games. Reeves started his NBA career, and his demise as an NBA big man was highly unfortunate. The man once highly touted as the next great NBA center, is now just another obscure athlete.


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