"That's how much he meant to LSU basketball," the former Tiger coach said. "The only thing more impressive than Rudy Macklin the basketball player is Rudy Macklin the man," Brown said.
Brown's case could be taken under advisement. Macklin is the second only to Pistol Pete Maravich on LSU's all-time scoring list. He tallied 2,080 points in his four-year career, a 16.9 average. Of course, that's pretty far down from the Pistol's national record total of 3,667 points, a 44.3 average, but no other Tiger has come closer. And Macklin is also LSU's No. 1 all-time rebounder with 1,276 -- 59 more than O'Neal.
The differences rest partially in the fact that Macklin played four varsity seasons at LSU while Pistol Pete and Shaq played three.
Still, that's pretty healthy company to be with in the record books, especially when it's realized Macklin reached one goal Maravich and O'Neal fell short of: reaching the Final Four. It was a bittersweet experience, but Brown's basketball Bayou Bengals were there in Philadelphia in 1981.
Macklin, the first All-American of the Brown era at LSU, will be recognized Saturday, June 25, as one of the best ever in sports in Louisiana with enshrinement in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.
"I'd like to think we left a little mark," Macklin said of his talent-heavy senior team that lost to Indiana 67-49 in the national semifinals.
Indeed, they did, and he did.
During his four years as a starter, the Tigers were 113-38, the best record of any era in LSU basketball. In that time the Tigers won two SEC championships and advanced to the Elite Eight and Final Four. In 1980-81, LSU won a school-record 31 games during its magnificent run.
That season Macklin was the SEC's Player of the Year, beating out such athletes as Georgia's Dominque Wilkins, Kentucky's Sam Bowie, Mississippi State's Jeff Malone, and Tennessee's Dale Ellis.
Macklin had the third-best field-goal percentage (.595) in LSU annals, with stratospheric single-season percentages of .625, .622 and .606. His single-game LSU records include field goal percentage of 1.000 in a 12-of-12 performance against Mississippi State in 1980 and rebounds, 32 against Tulane as a freshman in 1976.
On perhaps the best team ever to wear the purple-and-gold, one that included Greg Cook, Ethan Martin, Dwayne Scales, Howard Carter, Willie Sims, Macklin was the main man, scoring and rebounding. Those Tigers skated through the SEC with the second league title of Macklin's career, then cruised through the NCAAs through the regional finals where they beat Wichita State 96-85.
That game brought on the first of perhaps the only two missteps of Macklin's college career: against the Shockers he broke a finger on his shooting hand trying to block a slam. The finger was caught between the ball and the rim. It didn't overly bother him then, but it played a major role when the Tigers collapsed in the second half the following week in Philadelphia against Indiana.
Eliminated from the national crown, a crushed LSU then lost to Ralph Sampson and Virginia 78-74 in the last consolation game ever played. It was also the day of the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan. After the game Macklin was asked if the shooting of the president affected him emotionally. It was reported Macklin shot back, "He ain't no kin of mine," a remark that brought some abuse and tons of angry letters.
"That was an injustice," Brown said. "I was there. I heard everything that was said. Here was a heart-broken and disappointed kid who had just played and lost a game on the national stage. Rudy was not flippant or cavalier about it. His complete answer was he might have been affected emotionally if the shooting involved someone in his family, then he added, 'He ain't no kin of mine.' The quote was never placed in context."
After a pro career, shortened by a physical ailment, Macklin returned to Baton Rouge and now heads the Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, which he has directed for 10 years, and has recently been appointed state Director of Minority Health.
"Rudy is far more than a basketball player," Brown said. "He is a magnificent human being that contributes to society daily. He is a superb role model and an outstanding gentleman."
Still, it is basketball that brought him his fame.
A native of Louisville, Macklin grew up with Darrell Griffith, who became a legend at the University of Louisville. They could have been collegiate teammates, but Macklin said he decided on LSU after a tour of the campus.
"Louisville is an urban school, downtown," he said. "Once I visited LSU, with green walking spaces and a beautiful setting, I knew I wasn't going to Louisville. That and the fact that I wanted to help Coach Brown lift LSU basketball were the reasons I came to Louisiana."
Though Macklin left a major imprint on LSU basketball, it could be argued Griffith made the better choice. The Cardinals won the 1980 NCAA Tournament.
"No, not to me," Macklin said. "We didn't win, but LSU was pretty far down when I came here and pretty near the top when I left. I kind of feel like we accomplished our mission."