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​Vin Scully, Michael Jordan, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

President Obama is going to meet a whole bunch of sports stars when he presents his last Presidential Medals of Freedom.
November 16, 2016, 9:08pm
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The Presidential Medal of Freedom, while certainly a wonderful honor for those who are chosen, also has seemed like a contrived way for the president of United States to meet other famous people who he likes. Everybody knows that President Obama is a big sports fan, so it should come as little surprise that Michael Jordan, Vin Scully, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar made the 2016 list, Obama's last before leaving office. Actually, if you include baseball writer god Bruce Springsteen, it's four from the sports world. In any case, Jordan, Scully, and Abdul-Jabbar (and Springsteen) will be among 21 recipients (including two posthumous) coming to the White House next week for a ceremony.


Of Scully, the White House says:

In Southern California, where generations of fans have grown up listening to Dodger baseball, Scully's voice is known as the "soundtrack to summer." In 1988, he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Scully's signature voice brought to life key moments in baseball history, including perfect games by Sandy Koufax and Don Larsen, Kirk Gibson's home run in the 1988 World Series, and Hank Aaron's record-breaking 715th home run.

Of Kareem, it says:

In addition to his legendary basketball career, Abdul-Jabbar has been an outspoken advocate for social justice.

And it's true: Kareem's columns and essays are an indispensable part of a social science reading diet. As for Michael Jordan, well, he was a great basketball player and won six championships and no doubt accomplished much behind the scenes for social progress, though none of that is noted by the White House at this time.

With these 21, which also include Tom Hanks, Cicely Tyson (of Deadpool!), Robert Redford, Diana Ross, Robert De Niro—come on, Obama is totally doing this just to see Hanks, Redford, Tyson, Ross, and De Niro! Anyway, with these 21, it makes 102 total Medal of Freedom honorees under President Obama, beating Ronald Reagan's record by one.

Yogi Berra and Willie Mays were recipients in 2015, and there are 29 medal recipients from the sports world overall since 1963.