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updated: 2/12/2012 12:24 AM

Friendship grows between Bulls' Brewer, Butler

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  • Bulls guard Ronnie Brewer has taken rookie teammate Jimmy Butler under his wing this season as the two have become good friends.

      Bulls guard Ronnie Brewer has taken rookie teammate Jimmy Butler under his wing this season as the two have become good friends.
    Associated Press

  • Bulls rookie Jimmy Butler wipes his face after a timeout during a game at Atlanta last month.

      Bulls rookie Jimmy Butler wipes his face after a timeout during a game at Atlanta last month.
    Associated Press

 
 

Camaraderie is easy to find in the Bulls' locker room, but away from the court, the sad reality is most NBA players tend to spend time with their business advisers, personal trainers and entourages.

So it has been interesting to see a real friendship develop this season between veteran Ronnie Brewer and rookie Jimmy Butler.

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Most practice sessions end with a raucous shooting contest among those two players and assistant coach Adrian Griffin, the third wheel in this relationship.

"When he was staying in the little hotel over here (near the Berto Center), he really didn't know anybody," Brewer said. "I only live right down the street, so we'd go out and get something to eat or go the movies.

"We play the same position. We work out with Griff every day, so it's just natural that we hang out a lot."

Butler was the Bulls' first-round draft pick last year out of Marquette, while Brewer is a sixth-year pro. But the age difference is only 4 years.

"Ronnie's a great dude, not too much older than me," Butler said. "I think we have a lot in common. He's been teaching me on the defensive end. He's just always telling me to be aggressive, things like that."

There hasn't been anything quite like this on the Bulls since Luol Deng and Andres Nocioni hit it off as rookies.

In that case, those two bonded as sort of strangers in a strange land. Nocioni was from Argentina and barely spoke English when he joined the Bulls. Deng had gone to high school in New Jersey and spent a year at Duke, but he grew up mostly in Sudan, Egypt and England.

If there's a similar unifying bond with Brewer and Butler, maybe it's an Arkansas-Texas thing. Brewer grew up in Fayetteville, home of the University of Arkansas, while Butler is from the Houston suburb of Tomball, Texas.

"It may be a southern thing, but I think we hit it off more because he's always bagging on Marquette; I'm always bagging on Arkansas, just stuff like that," Butler said. "Just jokes -- that's what we do. I really think that's the biggest part.

"Brew, he'll never let me forget that my face was up in the Marquette practice gym. He'll talk to me about that for the next six years."

Last week before the Bulls played the Bucks in Milwaukee, they held shootaround at Marquette's practice gym. But the joking seems unfair, since it's extremely unlikely the Bulls will ever practice in Fayetteville.

"We won't, but he already offered me to see Arkansas over the summer, so I think I'm going to do that," Butler said. "I want to see what it's about. He thinks Tomball is country; I know where he's from is really country."

There have been plenty of rookie misadventures over the years, from James Johnson's Dora the Explorer backpack to Joakim Noah being required to travel all the way to Mundelein to fetch Krispy Kreme doughnuts every day before practice.

This being the condensed lockout season, the rookie duties have been limited.

"We don't have too many rookie duties," Brewer said. "But every once in awhile, we ask him to do something and he does it without any problems. We ask him to get lotion, stuff for the showers, sometimes ask him to pick up food.

"For the most part, we have a cook, so he doesn't have to bring doughnuts or anything like that, any hard stuff. Just minor stuff. He takes some of us out to eat sometimes and pays for the dinner or the movies or something like that. He's not cheap."

One reason Butler has fit in well on and off the court is he was a low draft pick who was prepared to be a role player with the Bulls. He's not an aspiring star who thinks he should be scoring 20 points per game.

"You can joke with him, but if you ask him to do anything, he's going to do it with all his heart," Brewer said. "You respect that, because a lot of guys out of college or in the league sometimes come with egos.

"He's one of those guys that doesn't come with a lot of baggage, and he does everything you'd expect out of a rookie. He knew what he was going to have to do when he came in."

mmcgraw@dailyherald.com

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