Celebrating a basketball legend who made a difference on and off the court, President Donald Trump honored a “beloved basketball legend and a true American original.”
The president awarded former National Basketball Association (NBA) player Bob Cousy, also known as “Mr. Basketball,” with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, on Thursday.
Cousey — who retired from his time playing for the Boston Celtics 1963 after 1,026 games — is a six-time NBA champion and 13-time NBA All-Star, among garnering several other achievements, the president shared.
“Off the court, he fought for racial equality by standing up to racism directed at his teammates, and he helped organize the NBA Players Association,” a military aide read allowed during the ceremony in the Oval Office.
Bob Cousy is celebrated as one of the greatest players in the history of basketball.
Off the court, Cousy fought racism and became a leader for racial equality both within and beyond the NBA.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) August 23, 2019
“Mr. President, I know, in your world, you’re well on your way to making America great again,” Cousy said after being decorated with the medal. “In my world, it’s been great for 91 years.”
The former FBA legend offered praise to the president, labeling Trump the “most extraordinary president of my lifetime.”
Check out Cousy receiving the award:
After accepting the Presidential Medal of Freedom Bob Cousy pays tribute to his late wife who "put up with him" for 63 years & explains what receiving the honor means to him 🎖️
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) August 22, 2019
Taking note of his friends and family’s support, Cousy became emotional noting his late wife, who “put up with me” for 63 years. He then jokingly added that “this is why you shouldn’t invite old men to the White House,” as he was on the brink of tears.
“The Presidential Medal of Freedom allows me to reach a level of acceptance in our society I never once ever dreamed of. And it’s very special for two other reasons: It allows me to join one of the most exclusive clubs on our planet. […] Secondly, Mr. President, it’s special because it is being presented by the most extraordinary President in my lifetime. And I’m a ‘B.R.’ — a ‘before Roosevelt.'”
See Cousy’s comments below:
Bob Cousy shared a few words as he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom this evening! pic.twitter.com/7jmX9FkWtS
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) August 22, 2019
Watch the full ceremony below:
Cousy is the latest person to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, as Trump as honored nine others with the award. Among those include former Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), professional golfer Tiger Woods, and, posthumously, singer Elvis Presley and former professional baseball player George Herman “Babe” Ruth, Jr.