I was at the Museum of Science and Industry when I got the news that the Chicago Bulls had re-signed Ronnie Brewer for their playoff run. As I looked at my phone while following my son around the train exhibit (A+ parenting, I know), I smiled.
Brewer is the classic "good guy" you hear about from sportswriters via Twitter and sports radio. He's nice to the media, popular with teammates, talented enough to get that "glue guy" story written about him when he scores 15 points in a victory.
The NBA is full of Ronnie Brewers. The addition of Brewer shows the Bulls think they can fight their way into the Eastern Conference finals, though that's really predicated on whether they can jump past Toronto for the third seed. Miami is Miami, which means LeBron is LeBron.
Given that Toronto has the tiebreaker, all the Bulls can do is try to win their final five games. Brewer can help with that as well. Tom Thibodeau is riding with his seven-man rotation, nine if you count the handful of minutes he gives to veteran center Nazr Mohammad and rookie swingman Tony Snell. Brewer can handle a dozen minutes or so, if he can actually handle them. He was released six weeks ago. Is he in Tom Thibodeau game shape? If not, he will be.
I enjoyed my conversations with Brewer during his two-year run with the Bulls. During the beginning of his second season in January 2012, I went to him for a column on the team's comfort playing Thibodeau's exacting style of defense. C.J. Watson had told me how Thibodeau would get on those two for gambling on steals. This is what Brewer said about that:
"He wants us to play solid and follow the principles of playing the right way," Brewer said. "It's tough for us, because it's all instinct. You want to go gambling and go get the ball. For the good of the team, you can't really pick your spots, and you've just got to play the defense."
Brewer, who was expendable once Jimmy Butler was able to play, was a leader of the late, lamented Bench Mob. Here's Brewer describing their defense:
"You got Taj and Omer locking up the inside," Brewer said. "So it allows C.J. and John [Lucas III], when he's in, to pressure [the point guards] and turn them a few times before they even get in their offense. And when they get in their sets, it allows myself and Kyle [Korver] to overplay, deny and get into the defender, because we know if we get beat, we've got guys who can make up for us and contest shots and play without fouling."
But my favorite Brewer moment came the previous spring when the Bulls were in Miami during the Eastern Conference finals. I was doing a story on Carlos Boozer's foray into rapping. His song, done with R&B singer Mario Winans and the fastest rapper in the world, Twista, debuted before Game 2 of the series at home. It was called "Winning Streak" and it was terrible. Listen here if you don't believe me.
Anyway, I read a tweet where Brewer joked with Boozer about his rhyme skills, so I asked him his thoughts on Boozer's MC talent.
"No comment," Brewer said that day with a laugh. "I'm not commenting on that, man. C'mon, I'm not answering that question."
It wasn't the best quote but the look on his face said it all. Welcome back, Ronnie. It's Winning Time once again.