Retired Boston Celtics legend Bob Cousy was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Thursday, and the NBA Hall of Famer had some words of support for the man who gave it to him — President Donald Trump.
Cousy was a 13-time All-Star in the 1950s and 60s who won six NBA championships. For his career, he averaged 18.4 points, 7.5 assists and 5.2 rebounds per game.
But Cousy wasn’t just a great player.
“Bob was also a passionate advocate for equality and justice,” Trump said Thursday in the Oval Office, according to a White House transcript of his remarks. “While playing for the Celtics, Bob heard that his friend Chuck Cooper, the first African-American drafted into the NBA, could not stay in the same hotel as the rest of the team in the segregated South.”
Pres Trump also hailed Bob Cousy for his character, as an activist against racism, bigotry and inequality and standing up for his fellow NBA players. pic.twitter.com/hqeZoBzReO
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) August 22, 2019
“Bob responded by leaving the state with his teammate, and he wasn’t a happy person. And he became very happy because what happened after that is very legendary,” Trump added.
President @realDonaldTrump presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, to legendary @NBA Hall of Famer — Boston @Celtics Bob Cousy, in the Oval Office of the @WhiteHouse. pic.twitter.com/y6rpvCDjow
— Dan Scavino Jr.🇺🇸 (@Scavino45) August 23, 2019
“Bob was right at the forefront. Throughout his long career, Bob was a voice against prejudice, racism and bigotry.”
Cousy seemed to appreciate the kind words from the president. And it appears the feeling was mutual.
“If I had known I was going to be eulogized, I’d have done the only decent thing and died for you,” the 91-year-old said.
“Mr. President, I know, in your world, you’re well on your way to making America great again,” he added. “In my world, it’s been great for 91 years.”
Cousy went on to thank his family and pay tribute to his late wife. Then, he talked about how much receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the highest civilian honor one can get — meant to him.
“It allows me to join one of the most exclusive clubs on our planet,” he said.
“And secondly, Mr. President,” he added, “it’s special because it is being presented by the most extraordinary president in my lifetime. And I’m a ‘B.R.’ — a ‘before [Franklin] Roosevelt.'”
You can watch the full ceremony below:
Afterward, Cousy gave an interview to Fox Nation, which will air in September.
“The basketball legend was more blunt about his support for President Trump, saying he will vote for him in 2020, and that he believes Trump has made mistakes but has also racked up significant accomplishments,” Fox News noted.
In 2016, on the other hand, Cousy says he supported Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico. For much of his life, Cousy said, he was a proud independent.
This is not the first time Cousy has praised Trump.
“This president will definitely have my vote in 2020,” he told NBA.com earlier this month. “I simply feel, without getting into the politics of it at all, like many Americans — I agree with some of the things he’s done and disagree with others.”
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