On Tuesday, November 22nd President Barack Obama will hand out the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 21 recipients. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest honor that a President can give to a civilian. This will be the last time President Obama will be giving out this medal.
Among those receiving the medal will be NBA legend and Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan, and Los Angeles Dodgers legendary broadcaster Vin Scully. Additionally, Los Angeles Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will also receive the medal.
While these people have achieved a lot in the careers, the Presidential Medal of Freedom might be the most significant distinction in their life. President Obama tried to put into words how important this award is, via AJ Neuharth-Keusch of USA Today.
“The Presidential Medal of Freedom is not just our nation’s highest civilian honor — it’s a tribute to the idea that all of us, no matter where we come from, have the opportunity to change this country for the better,” President Obama said in a statement. “From scientists, philanthropists, and public servants to activists, athletes, and artists, these 21 individuals have helped push America forward, inspiring millions of people around the world along the way.”
Abdul-Jabbar has long been active in Civil Rights since his days at UCLA. Abdul-Jabbar fought alongside fellow athletes such as Muhammad Ali and Jim Brown and has written many books and articles about civil rights, always fighting for the rights of everyone.
Jordan recently donated money to the Institute for Community-Police Relations and NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Both organizations aim to help improve relationships between police offers and the community. Scully, the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers, has always been seen as the voice of Los Angeles. Scully retired after the Dodgers regular season ended this past year.
Abdul-Jabbar and Jordan join Bill Russell as the only NBA players to win this award. Even with their combined 23 NBA championships with the three iconic franchise in the NBA, receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom has to be just as important.