The return of NBA basketball to Vancouver last night sparked some memories of the Vancouver Grizzlies. Eric Smith blogged about it on the FAN590.com yesterday: "The worst trade in NBA history: Vancouver for Memphis!" When you mention the Vancouver Grizzlies, Canadian hoop heads get bitter. Why? There was a series of failures with the Canadian NBA franchise: the Steve Francis fiasco, the NBA lockout, the ugly uniforms (see above), the team's move to Memphis and the Grizzlies' first ever draft pick:
Bryant "Big Country" Reeves.
After six seasons as a Grizzly, "Big Country" retired from the NBA in 2001 at the ripe old age of 28, with chronic back pain. The big man from Gans, Oklahoma (population 208) was a big scorer at Oklahoma State University and also a great rebounder. At OSU, he played against the likes of Tim Duncan back in '95. When watching the old Duncan/Reeves matchup video on Youtube, it's hard to believe that at that time, Tim Duncan and Bryant Reeves were playing at the same level in their college career. However, after joining the NBA, their careers went into two entirely different directions. Reeves wasn't much of an exciting NBA player to watch but he did have a decent career in his first few seasons. His career fizzled out quickly, just like the team's stay in Vancouver. After the NBA lockout, Reeves had struggles with his weight leading to injuries, forcing him to call it quits in '01.
In case you wondering who he is, here was a nice little video on him:
Now, where in the world is Big Country Reeves today?
I did an investigation back in March, but completely forgot to post it on my blog at the time.
After his retirement, Reeves disappeared off of the face of the earth and, for all we knew, faded into oblivion. No stories ever came out in the mainstream media on his whereabouts, he was just gone. I decided to ask around my contacts in the NBA/blog world, but no one had a clue. People had their guesses, but no one knew for sure. Even people from Oklahoma had reponses like "In all honesty, I'm not 100% sure what he's up too" and "My understanding is that he fishes a lot.", I had to know what his story was. So I did more digging...
Knowing that Reeves came from a small town with a population of 208, I thought, someone from the town must have an email address, a Myspace page, a Gans,Oklahoma business website.....just something to help a dude from Canada find his whereabouts! Luckily, I stumbled across a MySpace page of a guy who lived in the outrageously small town. I shot off a quick message and low and behold, I got a response. The dude worked for "Big Country", and here is what he had to say:
"In fact I was actually with him today. He is pretty much just living a country lifestyle. He has moved back to Gans and has a great house on the Arkansas River. He has three kids, 2 boys and a girl. He pretty much is just running his cattle ranch and fishing and hunting when he can. He has a lot of good land and his dreams of basketball faded, so he just lived another dream living a great country life. "And that, my friends, is the story of the long lost, Bryant "Big Country" Reeves.
Photo credit: NewOK.com