Larry Brown: 'God put me here to coach' Allen Iverson

Larry Brown: 'God put me here to coach' Allen Iverson

Larry Brown on success as SMU head coach

February 17, 2014, 12:00 pm
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Larry Brown and Fran Dunphy embrace after Temple's 71-64 upset win over No. 23 SMU on Sunday. After the game, Brown said he was outcoached by Dunphy. (USA Today Images)

Larry Brown accepted one question about his team's poor foul shooting, lauded Fran Dunphy, briefly discussed rebounding differential, and then, after only one minute and 40 seconds, put his palms on the table and asked:

"Is that it?"

It wasn't by a longshot.

The joke drew laughter from the media assembled for Brown's pseudo-homecoming. The current SMU head coach and former Philadelphia 76ers head coach held court in the Liacouras Center's media room following his team's 71-64 loss to Temple (see story). Sunday marked the first time Brown coached a game in Philadelphia since Dec. 5, 2009, when he was with the Charlotte Bobcats.

Two members of the Sixers' 2001 Eastern Conference Championship team -- Eric Snow and George Lynch -- are now assistant coaches on Brown's SMU staff.

Aside from the game, Brown, now 73, addressed questions on his relationship with Dunphy, his affinity for the city of Philadelphia, and the current state of college athletics.

And, of course, before leaving the podium, he got to Allen Iverson. Brown said he won't be able to make Iverson's jersey retirement ceremony on March 1. He'll explain why below, and he'll also explain why God put him on this Earth. Hint: it has to do with Iverson.

We'll start there.

On Allen Iverson, before exiting, remarks unprompted:

"I'm not going to be there on Allen's day, and I'm sick. We've got a game and I can't get the TV people to change the time.

"But I just want to say this since I have a group here. I know a lot of people think we banged heads and stuff like that, but I know God put me here to coach him. He might not think that, but I feel that way. The more I'm away from it, and the more I meet young people, and people stop me everywhere, I realize the impact he had on our game. I'm thrilled that you guys are doing it (the jersey retirement) for him, because nobody deserves it more than he does. And in this community, I think he was accepted the right way, and that makes me feel great."

On Philadelphia:

"I love Philly. I love being here, being part of the basketball culture. I saw Sonny [Hill], I see Malik [Rose], I saw Aaron [McKie], I've got George [Lynch] and Eric [Snow] on my staff. I had a wonderful time here. I love coming back. I love everything Philly represents."

On conference realignment:

"Oh I hate what's happened to college athletics. I saw Duke-Maryland last night, and you know [Maryland coach Mark Turgeon] is one of my guys, and they're not playing again. I mean, what a shame. And how about the field hockey team from Maryland is going to go to Lincoln (Nebraska). You think they're going to charter, for the best interests of the student-athletes? How are they going to get to Lincoln? And who's going to care?

"But I love our league. I was hopeful we were going to be in the Big East, because of what coach [Dave] Gavitt has meant to me, and what he created was just phenomenal. But to be in a league with Temple, Cincinnati ... Memphis, we're real fortunate.

"I don't know where [realignment] going to go. I wish they had football wherever they wanted. They only play once a week. Let them do -- figure out great rivalries that will be fair to the kids and fair to the fans and keep some tradition."

(Ed. note: Nebraska does not field a field hockey team, although Brown's wider point obviously still stands.)

On the one-and-done and the current state of college basketball:

"I think we've hurt college basketball by allowing these kids to come out early. We've really hurt it. We've hurt it because now kids are transferring everywhere. They all expect to play right away. I'm not saying LeBron shouldn't come out. That's a [prodigy]. He deserves to come out. If he was a magician or a golfer, he'd be allowed to come out.

"We need to have that baseball rule, I think. Let the NBA and people that know advise kids that are ready to come out and the ones that aren't -- you have the best minor-league system in the world, plus you get an education."

On his relationship with Temple's Fran Dunphy and on coaching:

"We got outcoached. Fran did a great job of creating matchup problems for us.

"I wasn't real proud of myself tonight, but I was proud of Fran. He's probably as underrated as any coach there is. Any game I go to, as a spectator or if I'm lucky enough to be participating in, I admire the people I'm coaching against, and I admire the people I work with.

"But I respect [Dunphy], one because I've known him forever, but they're [2-10] and just got blown out by Louisville, and they looked like the team that was supposed to win. They had amnesia. And I think he does that. I've watched him long enough.

"But again, I'm lucky to be doing this. Nights like this aren't fun, but we've got another game Wednesday, and I've got to do better. That's how I look at it."

Larry Brown, at 73, still coaching.