Corey Brewer Back2Back Basketball camp held in Rock School gymnasium
Published: Monday, August 1, 2011 at 5:52 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, August 1, 2011 at 5:52 p.m.
It was anything but typical.
Former Florida forward Corey Brewer's fourth season in the NBA included being part of three different organizations and getting traded for the first time in his career. But it ended in a familiar setting: On a podium, celebrating a championship.
"It was a whirlwind," Brewer said. "But it all ended up really good for me."
Brewer became the first Gator to win both a college national championship and an NBA title when the Dallas Mavericks upset the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals in June.
In Gainesville, hosting his second annual Back2Back youth basketball camp, Brewer could look back on the last 12 months and feel fortunate.
"It brought back a lot of memories," Brewer said. "It's always fun to win just to be on the stage, get the trophy. Everything runs through your mind."
Despite being part of three losing seasons in Minnesota, Brewer had said last year he hoped to finish his career with the Timberwolves. But Minnesota dealt Brewer to the New York Knicks last February shortly before the NBA trade deadline.
The Knicks then bought out Brewer's contract, leaving the former Gator standout in limbo. Dallas, though, swooped in to offer Brewer a two-year contact extension.
"I knew I was going to get picked up by somebody," Brewer said. "I just didn't know where. I was lucky. I was not only able to sign a deal for the rest of the season, I got two more years, an extension basically on my contract."
And Brewer landed on a veteran-laden Mavericks team at the right time.
"We had good fans in Minnesota," Brewer said. "They cheered us on even though we were losing. Dallas is like, it's a winning culture. Every game you are supposed to win. That's the way everybody feels when they go out there. It's all about winning."
That carried over into the postseason. After years of playoff disappointments, Dallas knocked off the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakes in the Western Conference semifinals. After beating Oklahoma City in the Western Conference finals, the Mavericks upset the favored Heat to win their first NBA title.
Brewer said he felt like the veteran leadership of Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd made the difference in the finals.
"They had been there so many times," Brewer said. "They were to the point where they knew this was their chance. J-Kidd was 37, 38. Dirk was older. Everybody was like, we might not have a chance to get back here. It was all about winning. They put their mind to it and we won."
Brewer accepted his role. After starting for three seasons in Minnesota, Brewer appeared in just six playoff games with the Mavs, and none in the Finals. But he showed up each day in practice willing and ready to work.
"Anytime I got a chance, I went in and played as hard as I could," Brewer said.
Brewer said he envisions an expanded role with the Mavericks in the future. The 6-foot-9 forward played behind veteran forward Shawn Marion.
"When I signed with Dallas, it was more for the future than for the present anyway," Brewer said. "I knew I had a chance to play in the future. This year was just the icing on the cake, to get a chance to play with those guys."
Brewer was happy to be back in Gainesville, helping out kids. Close to 100 attended the first day of camp at The Rock School. One asked if he could beat LeBron James one-on-one.
"First thing they ask is 'Can you dunk it for me?'," Brewer said. "You can dunk on Derek Fisher. They always want to see you dunk."
Proceeds from the event will go to Shands Heath Care. Brewer has created the "Corey Brewer Fight Diabetes Fund" to provide funds for diabetes patient programs and education at Shands. Both of Brewer's parents are diabetic. His father has lost both legs to the disease.
"My dad has had a lot of surgeries from diabetes so that's why it really hits close to home," Brewer said.
Brewer said it's hard to believe it's been more than four years since he left Florida in 2007 following UF's second of back-to-back national title seasons. He recently reunited with his "'04" teammates Al Horford, Joakim Noah and Taurean Green in June at Green's wedding in Orlando.
"We were all still the same," Brewer said. "We still clown around. It was like yesterday when we were living in Keys (Complex) together. Still cracking the same jokes."
With the current NBA lockout, Brewer is entering his fifth season with some uncertainty. He said he would consider playing overseas if the lockout stretches into the season, but has not been approached by any teams.
"It would be something cool, something different," Brewer said. "A culture change."
Brewer said he plans to spend the next month working out in Tampa to continue to improve his game.
"I just hope (the lockout) gets resolved," Brewer said. "You really can't worry about it. You just have to keep working hard, getting better. Whatever happens, happens."