Trump awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to NBA legend Jerry West

The basketball great received the nation's highest civilian honor at a White House ceremony on Thursday.

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By Oluwatomike Adeboyejo

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Thursday awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to basketball legend Jerry West.

At a White House ceremony, Trump praised West — whose iconic dribble can be seen on the logo for the National Basketball Association — as an "extraordinary American" for his achievements on and off the court, saying the nation's highest civilian honor was a "richly deserved" award.

"It never ceases to amaze me the places you can go in this world chasing a bouncing ball," said West, the third player in NBA history to reach 25,000 points.

The Hall of Famer — nicknamed "Mr. Clutch" for his game-changing shots — played his entire 14-year career as a guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, making the league's All-Star Team each season and leading his team to the 1972 championship. West also helped lead the U.S. basketball team to gold at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome.

West, 81, later served as an NBA executive, championship-winning coach and manager. The two-time awardee of the NBA Executive of the year was instrumental in acquiring players such as Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, and Kevin Durant to create championship teams.

West is the 11th individual to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom during Trump's presidency. Other Trump honorees have included NBA Hall of Fame player Bob Cousy and golfing icon Tiger Woods.