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Medal of Freedom Goes to NBA Great Jerry West

Trump cites star's support for charities and veterans
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 5, 2019 7:15 PM CDT
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President Trump presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former NBA basketball player and general manager Jerry West at the White House on Thursday.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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(Newser) – Jerry West already had a logo. Now he has a medal. The former Lakers star was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, on Thursday by President Trump. "He made plays that will be remembered forever," Trump said in the Oval Office ceremony, the Hill reports. West starred at West Virginia University, then played all of his 14 NBA seasons for the Lakers. A guard, he retired in 1974 as the third-leading scorer in league history, per Fox News. West, now 81, was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1980. A silhouette of West playing inspired the NBA's logo. "Today, the silhouette of Jerry West is displayed on every uniform, court and basketball in the league," Trump said, per CNN.

After retiring as a player, West became a scout, coach and general manager for the Lakers and other teams. He won eight NBA titles with two teams in the front office, and one as a player. In the ceremony, Trump pointed out West's roots in West Virginia and the fact that he carried the state in the 2016 election. He also cited West's support of charities and veterans. West said he learned he would be going to the White House to receive the honor when his wife read it online. "It never ceases to amaze me the places you can go in this world by chasing a bouncing ball," he said. (Read more Presidential Medal of Freedom stories.)

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