The mystery of Big Country Reeves

The mystery of Big Country Reeves

Award-winning documentary screening twice on Saturday, April 13, at The Vic Theatre

As a seven-year-old Kat Jayme was so blinded by her love for the Vancouver Grizzlies it took her another 20 years and a self-made documentary to understand exactly what happened to the once-beloved franchise and her favourite player ‘Big Country’ Bryant Reeves.

From 1994 to 2001 nothing really seemed to go right for the Griffiths’ family’s NBA expansion franchise that cohabited then GM Place (now Rogers Arena) with the Vancouver Canucks. They started in 1995, but spiralled out of control within six years and were moved to Memphis. In hindsight, most of the Grizzlies’ demise can be attributed to both the NBA’s incompetence as well as the Grizzlies’ own management. Some of it was bad luck.

All of it, however, had closure, except for the story of Big Country, said Eric Yue, a Victoria resident who is co-hosting a screening of Jayme’s Finding Big Country on Saturday night, April 13 at 7 p.m. at The Vic Theatre downtown.

Tickets are available here.

READ MORE: Hall of famer Steve Nash changed the game of basketball, says high school coach

“I still love the [memory] of the Grizzlies and I still think we need an NBA franchise in Vancouver,” Yue said, recalling many youthful B.C. Ferries sailings to see the Grizzlies. “We were curious, we were interested, Victoria’s just across the water, I think there was just as much [Island] passion for the Grizzlies as there was on the Mainland.”

The award-winning documentary charmed audiences at the 2018 Vancouver International Film Festival, where it earned the Super Channel People’s Choice Award.

“Big Country, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Mike Bibby, when Grizzlies fans hear those names, it brings back some big feelings and there’s closure to all those other stories, but no one covered what happened with Reeves,” Yue said.

Yue, 42, and his brother Chris, 46, co-run Victoria’s 77-team Hockey 101 recreational hockey league. When they heard about the film and that it’s being screened around B.C., they reached out to the filmmaker. Jayme not only added Victoria to her tour she will also be at The Vic screening for a question and answer session with the film’s producer, Michael Grand.

READ ALSO: Vikes land prize Oak Bay basketball recruit

In 2001, the Grizzlies moved to Memphis and with the team went Reeves’ career, which few realized was already over. Quietly, without a retirement announcement or any press at all, Reeves disappeared from the spotlight, unaffiliated with the NBA fraternity, not responding to any media requests.

Most speculated he returned to his family’s farming ways in middle-America, but no one really knew.

It was the opposite of how it started, when, despite the Grizzlies (and the Toronto Raptors, which came in at the same time) being controversially kept out of the top-five of the 1995 NBA draft, Grizzlies management believed it had the franchise player it needed, taken sixth overall, in seven-foot-tall Bryant “Big Country” Reeves.

Only one year earlier he had captured the American basketball imagination as the baby-faced giant who drove Oklahoma State to the NCAA Final Four. So what happened?

reporter@saanichnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Crystal Pool and Fitness Centre will reopen Feb. 1 after a nearly 10-month closure to curb the spread of COVID-19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Crystal Pool and Fitness Centre gears up for safe reopening in Victoria

Recreation facility opens Feb. 1 with reservation system to prevent crowding

Coun. Jack McClintock said he would have voted for a proposed statutory holiday recognizing residential school survivors if he had had all of the information. (Black Press Media File)
North Saanich split over statutory holiday recognizing residential school survivors

Legislation would recognize Sept. 30 as National Day of Truth and Reconciliation

(Black Press Media file photo)
Break and enter suspect caught in the act by Saanich police, charged for seven other similar crimes

40-year-old accused of breaking into bank, restaurant, six liquor stores since October 2020

The Sooke School District raised more than $18,000 for the Goldstream and Sooke food banks from the funds of 10,000 Tonight in December 2020. The funds go two- to 2.5-times further due to the buying power of the food banks. (Black Press Media file photo)
SD62 high school students raise more than $18,000 for food banks

Edward Milne in Sooke rakes in $11,000 alone

(Black Press Media file photo)
Bylaw officers called to Saanich park for COVID-19 protocol violations on pickleball court

Raquet sport players reminded to avoid doubles play amid pandemic

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Surrey provincial court. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
New COVID-19 protocols set for provincial courthouses

The new rules were issued on Jan. 21, and took effect immediately

Dog owners, from left, Marlyn Briggs with Nayla, Marjory Sutherland with Effie and Mick, and Christina Godbolt with Conon walk their pets frequently at the Chemainus Ball Park but are growing increasingly concerned about drugs being found discarded in the area. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Puppy rushed to emergency 3 times after ingesting drugs in Chemainus public spaces

Dog owners walking in Chemainus parks urged to take caution

Police in Vancouver looking for male suspect who allegedly spat and attacked a store manager for not wearing a mask, at 7-Eleven near Alma Street and West 10th Avenue just before noon on Dec. 17, 2020. (Vancouver police handout)
VIDEO: Man spits on 7-Eleven manager over mask rule, sparking Vancouver police probe

‘Unfortunately, the store manager sustained a cut to his head during the assault’

The Vancouver-based SAR team successfully rescued two lost snowshoers off of the west side of Tim Jones Peak in the early morning of Monday, Jan. 19. (North Shore Rescue photo)
B.C.’s busiest SAR team raises alarm after 2021 begins with fatality, multiple rescues

‘People beyond ski resort areas of Seymour, Grouse, and Cypress go without cell reception,’ SAR warns

Police are searching for an alleged sex offender, Nicole Edwards, who they say has not returned to her Vancouver halfway house. (Police handout)
Police hunt for woman charged in ‘horrific’ assault who failed to return to Surrey halfway house

Call 911 immediately if you see alleged sex offender Nicole Edwards, police say

A screenshot from a local Instagram account video. The account appeared to be frequented by Mission students, and showed violent videos of students assaulting and bullying other students.
Parents, former students describe ‘culture of bullying’ in Mission school district

Nearly two dozen voices come forward speaking of abuse haunting the hallways in Mission, B.C.

Joe Biden, then the U.S. vice-president, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau take their seats at the start of the First Ministers and National Indigenous Leaders meeting in Ottawa, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau, Biden to talk today as death of Keystone XL reverberates in Canada

President Joe Biden opposed the Keystone XL expansion as vice-president under Barack Obama

Most Read