The sports world was well-represented at the White House on Tuesday, as President Barack Obama presented Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Vin Scully with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
In his final Medal of Freedom ceremony as president, Obama highlighted the accomplishments and importance of each recipient while also discussing the personal impact Jordan, Abdul-Jabbar and Scully had on him personally.
The trio was part of a group of 21 honorees comprised of American icons from varying fields.
MJ is widely considered the greatest basketball player of all time, and Obama made it clear that he earned the right to be the measuring stick against which greatness is compared in all fields, according to Josh Elliott of CBSN:
As seen in the following video, courtesy of NBA TV, the president used his wit and well-spoken nature to praise the Chicago Bulls legend:
While Jordan's meaning to the sport of basketball can't be understated, Obama referenced his pop culture importance in other areas, such as being the star of Space Jam, per NBC News:
The president even made mention of the crying Jordan meme, which has become an internet favorite in recent years, as David Mack of BuzzFeed relayed:
If Jordan is the most influential basketball player of all time, Abdul-Jabbar isn't far behind. The six-time NBA champion and six-time NBA MVP was paid the ultimate compliment by the president with regard to his on-court excellence, per Mark Knoller of CBS News:
Obama acknowledged that the man formerly known as Lew Alcindor was so dominant, in fact, that the NCAA changed its rules to make the game more difficult for him, according to the Los Angeles Lakers' official Twitter account:
Abdul-Jabbar's signature shot was the skyhook, and ever the huge basketball fan, the president mimicked it upon the 19-time All-Star's approach to the podium, as captured by Dan Linden of ABC News:
Arguably the funniest moment of the ceremony came when Obama was tasked with putting the medal around the 7'2" Abdul-Jabbar's neck, as seen in this tweet courtesy of CNN:
While Scully wasn't an athlete, there is perhaps no more iconic announcer in the history of sports than the New York native.
Scully began broadcasting Brooklyn Dodgers games in 1950, moved with the team to Los Angeles in 1958 and remained in his role until his retirement this past season.
The president joked that he considered having Scully come out of retirement to be the master of ceremonies Tuesday, as seen in this video from ABC News Politics:
According to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, Obama pointed out that Scully is synonymous with baseball and the game-day experience:
He also described Scully's innate ability to make it seem as though he was speaking directly to his viewers and listeners during Dodgers broadcasts:
Although it is impossible to fully explain the contributions of Jordan, Abdul-Jabbar and Scully in only a few minutes, the president highlighted several attributes that made them worthy recipients of the Medal of Freedom.
All of them were showered with awards over the course of their unforgettable careers, but Tuesday they were honored in a manner that transcends the world of sports.
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