The year was 1993 when Arthur Griffiths, once owner of the Vancouver Canucks, stated his intent to add a NBA franchise to his list of business ventures. One year later, Canadian basketball fans on the West Coast had a team to call their own, as the Vancouver Grizzlies were born. Unfortunately that was one of the rare highlights in the history of the short lived Vancouver franchise.
Horrible management decisions, sheisty ownership, unfair expansion rules from the NBA and less than desirable player selections and behaviors were all part of the team’s six season history in Vancouver, before being relocated to Memphis. Case in point, the first player ever signed by the Grizzlies, journeyman Kevin Pritchard was released before he even stepped on the court at GM Place. As both the Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors entered the league at the same time, a coin toss would determine who would select first in the expansion draft and who would get a higher selection in the upcoming NBA Rookie draft. The Grizzlies figured to build through the college ranks and passed on the first expansion pick which ultimately ended up being former Chicago Bulls point guard B.J. Armstrong. The Grizzlies decided to select Greg Anthony, a defensive minded floor general from the New York Knicks.
As part of the expansion agreement, the NBA thought it was a good idea to place unrealistic limits on both the Grizzlies and the Raptors, heaven forbid they be successful. Not only were they disallowed the number one pick in each of their first four lottery drafts, but in the first year, they were held out of the top five. Add to that a limitation on their full salary cap in their first two seasons and it wasn’t hard to see that the NBA appeared to be second guessing their approval of Canadian franchises. While the Raptors have seen individual player and team success during their history, the Grizzlies were known more for what they weren’t than what they were. Sadly for fans on the West Coast, some shady ownership wheeling and dealing has left Vancouver without an NBA franchise since 2001 and other than the teasing NBA pre-season games, likely won’t see a team calling Vancity home any time soon.
*This list is ordered based least to most regarding the number of games each player played during the 1995-96 Vancouver Grizzlies season.
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18 Cuonzo Martin
The former Purdue Boilmaker combo guard/forward was picked up by the Grizzlies after being a late second round pick by the Atlanta Hawks. Martin’s time in on the court for the Grizzlies was short lived, amounting to only 4 games, 19 minutes and a total of 5 shot attempts. After a brief stint in Milwaukee, in which he played even less, Martin headed overseas for a season before returning home to deal with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. After the cancer went into remission, Martin began his coaching career, starting as a high school assistant coach, before returning to assist with the Boilmakers. Following nearly a decade at Purdue, Martin coaching resume found him at Missouri State, Tennessee and, since 2014, the University of California.
17 Benoit Benjamin
As the third pick in the 1985 draft (ahead of Hall of Famers, Chris Mullin, Karl Malone, Joe Dumars) Benjamin has made many of the “All Time Laziest/Worst/Bust/Fail” lists. If one were to look and see a career average line of 11.4 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2 blocked shots over a fifteen year career, they would wonder how he found a spot on such lists, but it's because more is expected out of a third overall pick.
After a three year college career at Creighton University, Benoit found himself bouncing around the NBA, playing for nine different clubs. Picked up from the New Jersey Nets in the expansion draft, Big Ben played and started thirteen games for the Grizzlies, averaging nearly 14 points and 8 rebounds per game. A month later, Benjamin was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks. After finishing his career in 1999, Benjamin would find himself in legal trouble, first for child support payments and most recently dealing with drug and jail issues.
16 Antonio Harvey
After bouncing around to four different college/universities, Harvey was picked up by the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent in 1993. After two seasons with the Lakers, Harvey was plucked by the Grizzlies in the expansion draft. Of his 18 games with the Grizzlies, Harvey made six appearances in the starting lineup and averaged a respectable 22.8 minutes, 5.4 points and 5.2 rebounds as a spark plug and fan favorite. Waived by the Grizzlies before the end of the calendar year, Harvey would finish out his career with five more teams. Up until the end of the 2015-16 season, Harvey was part of the Portland Trail Blazers radio broadcast color commentary crew and was also one of the first licensed marijuana growers as an investor in the business.
15 Darrick Martin
Following a four year college career at UCLA, Martin failed to be selected in the 1994 NBA draft. As a member of the Sioux Falls Skyforce in the CBA, Martin found himself signing a pair of contracts with the Minnesota Timberwolves throughout the 94-95 season. After being sent to waviers, the Grizzlies signed the sub six foot guard as a free agent. Playing 24 games off the bench, Martin was mostly known for talking trash with a certain Chicago Bulls guard. While that may go down as a low point in Martin’s career, it is one of the most memorable in Grizzlies and Michael Jordan history. Martin would be traded two months later to the Timberwolves before he made the long journey though the NBA and semi-pro leagues. After his playing career finished in 2008, Martin would once again return to the Timberwolves to start his off court career as an Assistant Director of Player Development. A stint on the St. John’s Red Storm bench and a role on the UCLA radio broadcast team was sandwiched in between Martin’s current position as the head coach of the NBA D-League Reno Bighorns.
14 Kenny Gattison
The former power forward from Old Dominion, where he spent four years, made his way to Vancouver as part of the expansion draft from the Charlotte Hornets, after being drafted by the Phoenix Suns in 1986 in the third round. While Gattison would end up being a part of the Orlando Magic and Utah Jazz rosters up until 1996, his final season would be played in Vancouver. Starting 14 of 25 games, Gattison provided the Grizzlies with a solid stat line of 9.2 points and just under 5 rebounds a night. As with many of his Grizzlies teammates, Gattison would find a post playing career as a coach, first as an assistant with the New Jersey Nets, then the New Orleans Hornets and Atlanta Hawks before a two year stint with the Phoenix Suns.
13 Gerald Wilkins
Better known as the brother of "The Human Highlight Film,” Dominique’s younger sibling was a major contributor with the New York Knicks in the late 80s. After being released by the Knicks, Wilkins signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers in hopes of being the missing piece in dethroning the Chicago Bulls. Three years later, the Grizzlies picked up Wilkins in the expansion draft, hoping that he would be a veteran leader. Unfortunately for the Grizz and their fans, Wilkins was a shell of his former self, playing in only 28 games in his one season in Vancouver. Averaging a career low 6.7 points per game (at that time), the Grizzlies would waive Wilkins, who eventually ended his career with three years in Orlando. As the father to former NBA player Damien, Gerald currently lives in Atlanta and follows his son’s overseas career.
12 Rich Manning
*No recent pictures of Rich Manning could be found, so we went with a picture of his son, who's a top prospect in the MLB.
Playing a total of 45 games with the Grizzlies over the course of his two years in Vancouver, Manning provided the team with nearly seven feet of depth off the bench with 3.3 points and 1.7 rebounds per game. Selected in the second round of the 1993 draft by the Atlanta Hawks, Manning was waived and then signed by the Utah Jazz, before quickly finding himself as a free agent within the same month. Signed by Vancouver, Manning would stick with the Grizzlies until he was waived for a second time by the club in 1997. After retiring from the game in 2001 following a CBA and overseas career, Manning would find his post playing career as a loans officer in California. Manning’s son Matt may outdo his father’s pro sports career as he was recently drafted by the Detroit Tigers with the 9th overall pick in the 2016 MLB draft.
11 Doug Edwards
The “other” Edwards on the team, Doug came to the Grizzlies from the Atlanta Hawks as part of the expansion draft. Playing 31 games in his only season, Edwards was dubbed “Doughboy” by the Vancouver fans as a result of his pudgy body and apparent lack of desire on the court. Averaging only 16 minutes of floor time in his one playing season with the Grizzlies, Martin would find himself collecting cheques from the team until the 98-99 season. In total, he averaged a lackluster 3.0 points and 2.8 rebound per game during his time on the west coast. After taking on a role with the Kansas State Wildcats, Edwards currently holds down the role of Student Athlete Development at South Carolina.
10 Eric Mobley
"EMob" played nearly two seasons with the Grizzlies, totaling 62 games and 9 starts. Originally drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks with the 18th pick in the 1994 draft, Mobley attended the University of Pittsburgh, where he spent three years and averaged 10.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. He played one full season with the Bucks, before he was traded to the Grizzlies shortly into his second season there.
Mobley provided the Grizzlies with some height off the bench, averaging 4.1 points and 3 rebounds in a shade under 15 minutes of action. Like his time in Vancouver, Mobley quietly moved on from the game following the 1997 season, playing in the ABA for a short period of time, but never being heard from again.
9 Lawrence Moten
“Poetry In Moten” was a fan favorite during his two years in Vancouver due to his high socks, his silky smooth style of play and his transition game. Following a storied four year career with the Syracuse Orange, Moten was the 36th pick in the 1995 draft by the Grizzlies and was their second ever draft pick, after Big Country. Playing over a hundred games for the Grizzlies, most of which came off the bench, Moten averaged 6.6 points, 1.6 assists and 1.6 rebounds per game. After leaving the Grizzlies, he went to Washington for an eight game stint before fading from the NBA. He'd play in some smaller leagues in the states, before moving overseas to play some more.
Currently Moten is a PE teacher in Maryland where he also serves as one of the assistant coaches with the Gallaudet University Bison.
8 Ashraf Amaya
After four years in Southern Illinois, Amaya went unselected in the 1993 NBA Draft. The 6’8” forward found himself bouncing between the CBA and European leagues before being signed by the Grizzlies in 1995. Starting 34 of his 54 appearances, Amaya averaged a shade over twenty minutes of court time throughout his rookie season, chipping in 6.3 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. After the season ended, the Grizzlies would release Amaya, who would eventually be picked up by the Washington Bullets (Wizards) for most of the 96-97 season. Upon being wavied by the Bullets, Amaya would once again head overseas to play out the rest of his career until 2004. Since he hung up his sneakers, Amaya hasn't been heard from since.
7 Eric Murdock
Selected with the 21st pick in the first round of the 1991 draft by the Utah Jazz, Eric Murdock, the Providence alumni point guard, was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks following his rookie season. One month into his sophomore year, Murdock would find himself on the move to Vancouver along with Eric Mobley as part of the deal for Benoit Benjamin. Starting 14 of his 64 games with the Grizzlies, Murdock provided the team with a solid contribution off the bench with 9.1 points and over 4 assists in 23 minutes of action per game. Vancouver would release Murdock at the end of the season, after which he would make stops in Denver, Miami, New Jersey and LA (Clippers). Following his playing career in the CBA and ABA, Murdock would find a role as the director of basketball player development with Rutgers University from 2010-2012. Unfortunately for Murdock, it didn't end well. He was part of a wrongful termination lawsuit with Rutgers, as he brought to light former coach Mike Rice’s wrongful treatment of players both physically and verbally. He would earn a settlement of half a million dollars.
6 Greg Anthony
The Grizzlies first pick in the expansion draft, Greg Anthony was better known during his career with the UNLV Running Rebels than he was during most of his NBA career. After four years of coming off the bench in New York, Anthony found a starting role in Vancouver, starting 112 of 134 games. Statistically, Anthony posted career high numbers during the Grizzlies first season with 14 points and almost 7 assists per game, while putting in almost 30 minutes of work a night. Following a second, less productive season in Vancouver, Anthony found time with the Seattle SuperSonics, Portland Trail Blazers, Chicago Bulls and finally the Milwaukee Bucks. After retiring from the NBA in 2002, Anthony would become a NBA analyst for both ESPN and ABC. CBS offered Anthony a position with their college basketball broadcasting team in 2008. For the next seven years, Anthony would spend time between studio analyst and lead commentator for the NCAA coverage. In 2015, Anthony was arrested and charged picking up a lovely lady of the streets, which would in turn lead to an indefinite suspension from CBS. Anthony would return to the CBS and Turner Sports in March of 2016 as part of their March Madness coverage.
5 Anthony Avent
Anthony Avent came over to the Grizzlies in a trade for two players that never actually suited up for the Vancouver club, Kevin Pritchard and Larry Stewart. In his time with the team, Avent was pretty “meh” despite playing in 71 games and averaging over twenty minutes of floor time a night. Posting a shade under 6 points and 5 rebounds a night, Avent was released by the Grizzlies at the end of their first season and headed to Greece to play for one season before returning to the United States, where he'd play in the D-League, before getting shoes with the Jazz and Clippers. Most recently, Avent was a victim in a multimillion dollar Ponzi scheme involving wire fraud charges and purchases of foreclosed properties that didn’t exist.
4 Bryant Reeves
“Big Country.” Where do we start with the seven footer from Gans? As the Grizzlies first draft pick, sixth overall, the selection of Bryant Reeves wasn’t all that bad considering who was remaining on the board (other than Damon Stoudamire). Starting 63 of 77 games, Country tallied the second most minutes and points on the team during their inaugural season. Add in the fact that he lead the team in rebounds and blocks and the big man showed he was worthy of the draft selection. The next two seasons, Reeves would increase his point production and maintain his rebounding presence. Starting in the 98-99 season, Reeves, health or lack of it, combined with an at the time huge six year, $61.8 million contract would lead fans to lump the Gans giant in with everything that was wrong with the franchise. Although he would continue to collect a paycheck for the next two years when the team moved to Memphis in 2001-02, Reeves would never actually step on the court for an official NBA game. After retiring from the game during the 01-02 season, Reeves would head back home to Oklahoma and settle in on his enormous ranch, fitting for a man his size.
3 Byron Scott
Most recently known for coaching the worst team in Los Angeles Lakers history, the former Lakers guard and key member of the Showtime era came to Vancouver from the Indiana Pacers in the expansion draft. Spending just a single season with the Grizzlies, Scott provided the team with veteran experience as a combo guard with the second unit before being waived at the end of the season. Coming off of the bench for all of the 80 games that he wore a Vancouver jersey, Scott’s numbers, more-so his percentages, were some of the worst of his career. Following his one and done in Canada, Scott would sign a one year contract with the Lakers to finish out his NBA career before heading overseas. Upon his return, Scott would find himself on the sidelines in coaching roles with the Sacramento Kings (assistant), New Jersey Nets, New Orleans Hornets, Cleveland Cavaliers and finally back in LA, though he's currently out of a job.
2 Chris King
The answer to the trivia question, “Who scored the Grizzlies first basket in team history?” Chris King also has the honor of being the answer to “Who scored the game winner in the Grizzlies first home victory?” Signed as a free agent after playing a season in Greece, following his rookie year with the Seattle SuperSonics, King would start 66 of his 80 games with the Grizzlies at the small forward spot. King put up decent numbers for the Grizzlies during his time with the team, but would quickly be replaced by Shareef Abdur-Rahim the following summer. After being let go by the club, King would bounce around the overseas circuit until the Utah Jazz picked him up for a cup of coffee in 1999. King would once again pack his bags and passport and play out his career in different league overseas and the CBA.
1 Blue Edwards
The only man who played in and started all 82 games for the Grizzlies during their rookie season in the NBA, Blue Edwards filled the role of shooting guard for the team for three seasons before finishing his career in Miami. While Greg Anthony led the team in points on average, it was Edwards who paced the club with 1043 points overall. A fan favorite in Vancouver for his hustle points, Edwards posted the team’s first triple double in history with a 15 point, 13 rebound, 11 assist effort against the Dallas Mavericks. Unfortunately for Edwards, his time in Vancouver may have been known more for his extra marital activity and child custody battle, which would climax at the Surpreme Court of Canada in 2001. Eight years later, there was a TV movie called What Color Is Love? based on the entire affair. At last reports, Edwards resides in North Carolina coaching his daughters’ AAU teams and training individual athletes.
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