Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

A 19-time NBA All-Star and six-time Most Valuable Player, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will now receive one piece of hardware that tops any from the basketball court.

The White House announced on Wednesday that Abdul-Jabbar will be one of 21 people this year to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the country’s highest civilian honor.

Abdul-Jabbar led UCLA to three national titles before beginning his NBA career with Milwaukee, which he guided to the 1971 championship. Four years later, he was traded to the Lakers and went on to win five more rings during the Showtime era, while scoring the most career points in NBA history (38,387).

Since his playing days ended in 1989, Abdul-Jabbar has been a vocal advocate for social justice, particularly in his writing, which has appeared in publications like “Time” and the “New York Times,” as well as several books.

Prior to Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Jordan — who will also be receiving the honor this year — Bill Russell was the only NBA player to have been given the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“The Presidential Medal of Freedom is not just our nation’s highest civilian honor - it’s a tribute to the idea that all of us, no matter where we come from, have the opportunity to change this country for the better,” President Barack Obama said in a statement.

“From scientists, philanthropists, and public servants to activists, athletes, and artists, these 21 individuals have helped push America forward, inspiring millions of people around the world along the way.”

The medals will be awarded at the White House on Tuesday. Abdul-Jabbar’s fellow recipients include Ellen DeGeneres, Robert De Niro, Bill and Melinda Gates, Tom Hanks, Lorne Michaels, Robert Redford, Diana Ross, Vin Scully and Bruce Springsteen.