Reeves retires, was first Grizzlies draft pick

Tuesday, January 29th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) _ Bryant Reeves, the first player ever drafted by the Grizzlies, is retiring because of chronic back pain.

The team announced Reeves' retirement Tuesday. Because of his condition, the NBA has allowed the Grizzlies a $4.5 million salary cap exception.

The Grizzlies selected Reeves No. 6 overall in the 1995 NBA draft, when the team was based in Vancouver. The 7-footer had led Oklahoma State to the Final Four in 1995.

Through six seasons in the NBA, he averaged 12.5 points and 6.5 rebounds. He is the team's all-time leader in games played with 395.

Reeves has been sidelined since the Grizzlies began their first season in Memphis last fall.

``I am grateful to the entire Grizzlies organization for their support and encouragement throughout my career,'' Reeves said. ``Playing in the NBA allowed this small-town country boy from Gans, Okla., to share the court with the greatest players in the game.''

Billy Knight, the Grizzlies' general manager, said Reeves' back troubles, caused by degenerative spinal discs, left no choice but retirement.

``Right now, our primary concern is Bryant's health and his ability to enjoy a good quality of life,'' Knight said.