People are forever trying to get Ronnie Brewer to compare himself to his dad. Just like his son, Ron Brewer grew up in northwest Arkansas, was a Razorback star and carved out a long NBA career.
But the newest Thunder player won't have such talk.
“He played way back when,” Ronnie Brewer said. “So I really don't know what his game was like.”
Uh, Ronnie, better not let Eddie Sutton join the debate. Ron Brewer was one of his greatest players.
Sidney Moncrief was a five-time NBA all-star and Alvin Robertson was a four-time NBA all-star. You know all about Desmond Mason and Tony Allen.
But it's hard to imagine Sutton gushing about any player more than Ron Brewer.
“I've been blessed with so many wonderful guards,” Sutton said. “Brewer would be near the top on both ends of the floor.
“I hate to tell his son, but the son's not quite as good as his father was. He might not like to see that in the newspaper.”
Sutton means no disrespect to Ronnie, who debuts for the Thunder on Wednesday night against the Hornets.
Sutton loves Ronnie, too. Sutton is a Thunder fan and says Ronnie will help Scotty Brooks' team. Sutton tried to recruit Brewer to OSU, out of Fayetteville High School, from where he graduated in 2003. “Had too much Razorback in him,” Sutton said.
Brewer went to the same Fayetteville junior high and high school that Sean Sutton attended when his dad was coaching the Razorbacks.
Ron Brewer remains a Sutton loyalist, so it was natural that many thought Ronnie would become a Cowboy. He says it was “real close. Stillwater's a great place. Had a great tradition for basketball. At the time I was coming out, they really had it going. I took a serious look at 'em.”
But Ron Brewer said that in reality, Kansas, OU and Connecticut drew his son as much as did OSU.
“I don't think it was as close as most people think,” Ron Brewer said. “It would have been a great fit. But that decision was Ronnie's. He didn't have the same rapport or feedback with Coach Sutton that I did. I would have loved for that to happen. It didn't. Looking back, I think Ronnie doesn't regret going to Arkansas. He's really grown as a player. The rest of it is history.”
Sutton can't be too disappointed. OSU made the Final Four during Ronnie Brewer's freshman season at Arkansas, a capstone to a glorious coaching career that was elevated in no small part by Ron Brewer.
When Sutton arrived in Fayetteville in 1974, the Hogs had won 33 games the previous four years. But Sutton recruited a couple of promising players — Jim Counce and Marvin Delph — which in turn helped him recruit Sidney Moncrief out of Little Rock and Brewer out of Westark Junior College in Fort Smith.
In Delph, Moncrief and Brewer, Sutton suddenly had his ideal players. All about 6-foot-4, quick and athletic, committed to defense and skilled on offense. Rarely has college basketball seen anything like the Triplets.
In 1977, Arkansas was 26-2 and was upset by Wake Forest in the NCAA Tournament's second round, at OU's Lloyd Noble Center. The following season, the Razorbacks made the Final Four.
“Tremendous,” Sutton said of that team. Brewer “and Moncrief and Delph, all of 'em could have averaged 30 points a game. They all averaged about 17 or 18. They were a great ballclub.”
Sutton said Brewer “was a money player. Quiz any of those guys, they'd tell you he was the best player on that team. Marvelous player at both ends of the floor.”
Sutton still tells the story of the NCAA's 1978 third-place game, when Arkansas played Notre Dame.
With 10 seconds left in a tie game, Sutton told Brewer to dribble upcourt and take the shot if it was available, but otherwise, Moncrief was on one wing and Delph on the other.
Brewer took his time initiating the play. Assistant coach Gene Keady was screaming at Brewer to shoot or cut bait, and finally, just before the buzzer, Brewer arched a shot that found nothing but net to give the Hogs victory.
“Ron,” Sutton asked him later, “did you know how much time there was?”
“Yeah,” said Brewer. “I wanted to be the hero.”
Said Sutton, “He was a money player if ever there was one.”
Ron Brewer was the seventh overall pick in the 1978 NBA Draft, by the Trail Blazers. He played eight years in the NBA and averaged 11.9 points a game. In November 1981, Brewer had back-to-back 40-point games.
Ronnie Brewer is known as more of a defensive specialist. He's averaged 8.4 points a game over his NBA career, and though he's had 22 games of at least 20 points, only three have come in the last four years.
“Our games are entirely different,” Ron Brewer said of comparisons with his son. “His strength, forte, is defense. He needs to be looking more aggressive offensively, I think.”
But Ronnie Brewer comes by his defense honest. Sutton says Tony Allen probably is the best defender he ever coached, but “Brewer would be a close second.” Stout praise, considering how great of defenders were Robertson and Darrell Walker.
“Ron could take the game away from whoever he covered,” Sutton said.
Ron Brewer never found great team success in the NBA. He made the playoffs twice with Portland and once each with San Antonio and New Jersey but never won a series.
Ronnie has trumped his dad in that category. Ronnie played on Jazz teams that won playoff series in 2007 and 2008, plus he was a defensive stopper on the Bulls team that made the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011.
And now Ronnie has landed with the defending West champ Thunder, which has designs on another trip to the NBA Finals.
“Ain't no doubt about it, I'm excited because he's excited,” Ron Brewer said. “He felt it was a great move at this time, compared to where he was (the Knickerbockers). He couldn't ask for a greater situation, to be part of a championship contender. It's really special.”
Help the Thunder win a championship, and even Eddie Sutton might reconsider his Brewer vote.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.