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Celtics Legend Bob Cousy to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 22, 2019

Bob Cousy, left and Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics sing a duet during a break-up party of the Celtics at a Boston Hotel, April 26, 1963. The Celtics won their fifth straight World Championship when they defeated the Los Angeles Lakers. This was Cousy's last season with Celtics after 13 seasons. He will coach Boston College next year. (AP PhotoBill Ingraham)
Bill Ingraham/Associated Press

Boston Celtics legend Bob Cousy is set to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States' highest civilian honor, from President Donald Trump at the White House on Thursday.

The New York-born point guard, who is white, was "an ardent supporter of black teammates who faced discrimination during the civil rights movement," according to Kali Robinson of the Associated Press.

Cousy was one of the most decorated players of his era. He earned an All-Star selection in each of his 13 years with the Celtics from 1950 through 1963. He was named the NBA MVP for the 1956-57 season and made the All-NBA First Team 10 times. Boston won six championships during his tenure.

After retiring from the Celtics, the Holy Cross product served as the head coach of Boston College from 1963 to 1969. He then coached the Cincinnati Royals from 1969 to 1973, briefly coming out of retirement in his initial season to play seven games for the Royals.

The 91-year-old will join former Celtics teammate Bill Russell as recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. President Barack Obama honored Russell in 2011. He's also the second athlete to receive the honor this year following golfer Tiger Woods' ceremony in May.

He told Steve Aschburner of NBA.com he was originally slated to get the award in April before Woods won the Masters, which led Trump to honor the 15-time major champion first:

"A guy named Tiger did something spectacular. So the President delayed my presentation because he wanted to do Tiger immediately. Shortly after that, his aide contacted me and said, 'OK, the President would like to make it on July 29.' I said, 'Oooh, that's only two weeks away. Do we have a Plan B?' She said, 'Sure. How 'bout August 22.' I said 'Bingo! I'll be there with bells on.'"

Cousy said he doesn't align with all of Trump's political decisions but added: "Given this situation, this president will definitely have my vote in 2020. I simply feel, without getting into the politics of it at all, like many Americans—I agree with some of the things he's done and disagree with others."

He's a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. Holy Cross retired his No. 17, and the Celtics also sent his No. 14 to the rafters.