Bryant "Big Country" Reeves had one of his best games ever as a Grizzlie against the Seattle SuperSonics on March 13th, 2000. Even though he only averaged 8.9 points and 5.7 rebounds that year, he proved that at times when healthy he can put up some monster numbers just like he did in College.
He was a terrific post player with unbelievably soft hands and great feet," said Turner Sports analyst Greg Anthony, the Grizzlies' first pick in the expansion draft. "His struggles, like most young talents, were defensively in space. But his talent was undeniable." Unfortunately, talent isn't always enough. And Reeves ran into some problems with things he couldn't control: injuries (both to his back and his knee) and expectations.
He just didn't look like a basketball player other than his height, but he was," longtime Oklahoman writer Berry Tramel told Bleacher Report. "He was 7'0" and thick and had unbelievable hands. That's what made him a ballplayer. He could catch just about any kind of pass and had a nice, soft shooting touch." "I thought he got drafted too high," Tramel said. "It was a different game 20 years ago, but it wasn't that different. ... You still had the big plodding center—there was room for those guys, they could help you—but he was drafted sixth? That seemed a little high to me." Maybe things could have gone differently if Reeves had been selected a few slots lower. Maybe if he hadn't been immediately shipped to a foreign country. Maybe if he had been surrounded by battle-tested veterans who could guide him on and off the floor.
Even if his career didn't change, maybe the public perceptions of it would have.
But he wound up in a role he wasn't built to fill and in a body that couldn't support sustained success. He was the Grizzlies' first franchise face in both status and salary, but his star always fit best in the skies above the Sooner State.