The White House held its Medal of Freedom ceremony earlier this week, honoring 21 highly accomplished Americans renowned for their incomparable feats in their respective fields. Among them were NBA legends Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
President Obama took the opportunity to take slight digs at the man who made his hometown of Chicago the center of the basketball universe during the 1990s. Obama joked, “We’ve got innovators and artists, public servants, rabble-rousers, athletes, renowned character actors like the guy from 'Space Jam'”.
Calling him "more than just an internet meme”, Obama then stressed the impact that His Airness has had on American culture. The president stated, "There is a reason you call somebody ‘the Michael Jordan of'”.
Kareem wasn't exempt from Obama's sarcasm, referencing his brief acting career before also praising his historical accomplishments on the court. "Here’s how great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was: In 1967, he had spent a year dominating college basketball, and the NCAA bans the dunk. They didn’t say it was about Kareem, but it was about Kareem. When a sport changes its rules to make it harder just for you, you are really good.”
The comedic table turned as Obama labored to bestow the Medal of Freedom upon the 7'2" Kareem. Among the other recipients were the voice of Dodgers baseball Vin Scully, actress Cicely Tyson, Motown songstress Diana Ross, two-time Oscar winners Robert DeNiro and Tom Hanks, Ellen DeGeneres, Bill and Melinda Gates, and Bruce Springsteen.