By Michael McCarthy

Larry Brown is back in town.

He coached the last Sixers team that was worth watching — they went to the NBA finals in 2001, losing to the Lakers in — and he is now the head man at SMU, which plays Temple tonight at the Liacouris Center.

At 72, he is also one of the smartest and loquacious people in basketball; the Daily News’ John Smallwood started his tape recorder and Brown let fly:

“Let me start with the Sixers first. I said some things and a lot of things got turned around. I didn’t enjoy the fact that they were losing. I didn’t enjoy the fact that a lot of people felt they weren’t trying to win. But I was more upset that [former Sixers executives Courtney Witte and Tony DiLeo] were not involved [fired].

“But I love [Sixers coach Brett Brown], want to see him do well. This is a basketball city that means a lot to me . . . I was upset that I didn’t get to go see [Sixers star Allen Iverson’s] retirement. I think I had every right to do that.

“At the end of the day, I want to see [the Sixers win] and that’s that. I don’t even know [any of the Sixers current ownership and front office] . . . I spent 6 years here, and I think I’ve got to say what I feel, but it was in no way challenging Brett. He’s a great young coach. But that’s over. I cleared up what I said with [Sixers CEO Scott O’Neil]. They even sent me a package of Philly gear – To Whom It May Concern. But it’s OK.”

Brown, on Sixers injured rookie center Joel Embiid and the current roster:

“They’ve got the best player in the [2014] draft coming. [Embiid] can change everything in a second, and I’m sure he will. They’ve got a lot of young players. They’ve got the best young kid sitting out who is going to be phenomenal. I really believe in Brett, and I want to see the Sixers win.”

Brown, on analytics and the new numbers theories to evaluating basketball:

“I don’t get analytics. I never will . . . I’ve been doing analytics since I was 12 years old. You try to get fouled. You try to get great shots. You try to limit people from getting good shots.

“I don’t buy this thought that a midrange jumper is not a good shot. New owners made their money on information, so you can sound awful smart throwing a lot of information at people. But inside, you know who can play and who can’t. When you are young and you care about this game, you program it and figure out how you can use it to your advantage.”

Brown, on what would have happened in the 2001 NBA Finals had the Sixers not had so many injured players going up against the Los Angeles Lakers:

“We would have won if we were healthy. There is no doubt in my mind. If we would have had a healthy [George Lynch, Eric Snow, Aaron McKie, Matt Geiger] we win. We had the best player [Iverson] who was playing at the highest level. He had such a will to win that if we were healthy, there is no doubt that we would have won.

“The funny thing is that everywhere I go people talk about that Sixers team like we won a championship. Besides talking about Allen, they talk about the way those Sixers played, how hard they played.”

Brown, on his friendship with Villanova coach Jay Wright and how that reinvigorated him to want to coach again after being fired by the Charlotte Bobcats during the 2010-11 season:

“Jay let me come to every practice, be around, and I learned a lot. That was one of the good things. When you are a pro coach, people come to watch you, so you really don’t get to see if you are doing things right, things you need to do better.

“The 2 years when I got fired in Charlotte, I got to go everywhere. Watching [Wright] work and watching other people work got me excited about coming back. I was miserable for 2 years other than knowing that I could get up on those days and go watch one of these guys coach.”

Brown, on taking the job at SMU in 2012 at age 71:

“Just being involved with basketball is the ideal thing for me . . . To be honest with you, I think I’ve always been a college coach coaching pros. I was fortunate enough that people allowed me to coach and teach.

“I think players want a coach who is going to give them a chance to win and one who is going to teach them and try to make them better.

“At SMU, I’m allowed to teach young people who want to become pros. I’m around young coaches who want to be coaches. That’s enjoyment for me.

“I’ve never worked. I’m doing exactly what I want to do except on a different level because I always thought I would be a high school coach.

“As long as I feel like I can contribute to the game, I’m going to keep doing it. I’ve played for some of the greatest coaches. I’ve sat next to some of the greatest coaches. I’ve coached some of the greatest players. I still want to share the things that I’ve been taught.”

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