Watch: President Obama Awards Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar With the Medal of Freedom


They're two of the greatest NBA players of all time, counting a ridiculous 12 championships, 11 MVPs and 33 All-Star Game appearances between them.

And President Obama helped recognize their greatness — on and off the court — by awarding Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom on Tuesday at the White House.

There, the Commander-in-Chief went one by one, presenting the country's highest civilian honor to 21 individuals, including the Basketball Hall of Famers.

President Obama told a story about a five-year-old MJ nearly chopping off his big toe with an axe before hilariously saying, "Back then his handles needed a little work" and, "Think, if things had gone differently, Air Jordans may have never taken flight."

The Commander-in-Chief used that joke to set up Jordan's laundry list of hoop accolades before saying that MJ is "more than just a logo, more than just an internet meme." 

(How real is President Obama for mentioning the MJ crying meme?)

But perhaps the greatest compliment to the basketball GOAT, was when Obama said, "There's a reason you call somebody the 'Michael Jordan of.' Michael Jordan of neurosurgery or the Michael Jordan of Rabbis."

MJ used some comedy of his own, measuring up to the president at the podium as he was awarded with the honor.

Watch below.

President Obama also spoke about Abdul-Jabbar's dominance on the court, touching on the NCAA banning the slam dunk in 1967 as a rule specially made for him.

"They didn't say it was about Kareem, but it was about Kareem," he said to laughter from the other recipients, which included the likes of Diana RossCicely Tyson and Robert De Niro. "When a sport changes its rules to make it harder just for you, you are really good!"

President Obama also commended Abdul-Jabbar for standing up for "his Muslim faith when it wasn't easy and wasn't popular" and for "writing with extraordinary eloquence about patriotism."

Obama had to use every bit of his height to reach Abdul-Jabbar's neck, near the top of his 7-foot-2 frame, imitating the NBA legend's sky hook.

To watch the full Medal of Freedom ceremony, peep the video below:

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