Bryant Reeves (born June 8, 1973) is an American retired professional basketball player for the NBA’s Vancouver Grizzlies. He was nicknamed Big Country by his college teammate Byron Houston after Reeves was amazed following his first airplane flight across the United States, having grown up in the small community of Gans, Oklahoma.
7 feet tall and weighing between 275 and 300 pounds, Reeves was an imposing physical presence on the court and was primed to become a dominant center in the NBA. After a strong collegiate career with Oklahoma State University, where he averaged 21.5 points per game as a senior and led OSU to the 1995 Final Four, Reeves became the Grizzlies’ first-ever draft choice, selected sixth overall in the 1995 NBA Draft.
Reeves played six seasons with the Grizzlies. After averaging 13.3 points per game in a solid rookie season, he averaged 16.2 points per game in 1997 and was subsequently awarded with a six-year, $61.8 million contract extension. The next season, 1997-98, was his best, when he averaged 16.3 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 1.08 blocked shots per game. During that season he scored a career-high 41 points against the Boston Celtics.
After 1998, weight-control problems and injuries began to take a toll on Reeves, and his numbers fell off dramatically. He was still starting at center for the Grizzlies, but his minutes per game dropped, and his field goal percentage dropped significantly. Eventually, after the Grizzlies moved to Memphis, Tennessee, in 2001, Reeves started the season on the injured list due to chronic back pain and was never able to play another game (the only games he played with the team in Memphis were two preseason games). During preseason play in the fall of 2001, Reeves had experienced back pain and had to be taken off the court on two connected stretchers carried by eight of his teammates. He retired from the league midway through the 2001-2002 season. Following retirement, Reeves lives as a cattle rancher outside of Gans with his wife and three children.
In an episode of Open Court in 2014, Shaquille O’Neal named Bryant Reeves the toughest player to guard.
2012-13 FLEER RETRO MYSTIQUE AUTOGRAPH
Career highlights and awards
NBA All-Rookie Second Team (1996)
2× Second-team All-American – UPI (1994, 1995)
2× Third-team All-American – AP (1994, 1995)
2× Big Eight Player of the Year (1993, 1995)
3× First-team All-Big Eight (1993–1995)