Donald Trump presents NBA Hall of Famer Jerry West with Presidential Medal of Freedom

NBA legend Jerry West received the nation’s highest civilian honor on Thursday.

President Donald Trump presented West with the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House on Thursday afternoon, an honor Trump said West “richly deserved.”

“He made plays that will be remembered forever,” Trump said during the ceremony, via The HIll.

West spent 14 seasons in the league with the Los Angeles Lakers from 1960-1974, and was named an All-Star each season while in the NBA. West — who was the 1968-69 NBA Finals MVP and led the team to the Finals nine times — generated the nickname “Mr. Clutch” and even inspired the league’s current logo, both things Trump acknowledged during the ceremony.

The Hall of Famer spent three years coaching the Lakers after his retirement, too, and served as an executive in their organization for nearly two decades. He currently serves as a consultant for the Los Angeles Clippers.

“It never ceases to amaze me the places you can go in this world chasing a bouncing ball,” West said. “My chase began in Cheylan, West Virginia, where I strung a wire basket with no net to the side of a bridge. If a shot didn’t go in, the ball rolled down a long bank. You’d be chasing it forever. So you better make it.”

West is the 11th person to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Trump during his time in office, and is the sixth athlete — joining Bob Cousy, Tiger Woods, Roger Staubach, Babe Ruth and Alan Page. Other notable recipients under Trump include Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Senator Orrin Hatch and Elvis Presley.

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Athletes who have received Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Trump
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Athletes who have received Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Trump
President Donald Trump, right, presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former NBA basketball player and general manager Jerry West, in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
President Donald Trump applauds as golfer Tiger Woods speaks after receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in the Rose Garden of the White House, Monday, May 6, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former NBA basketball player and coach Bob Cousy, of the Boston Celtics, during a ceremony in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 16: U.S. President Donald Trump (R) presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Hall-of-Fame quarterback Roger Staubach (L) during an East Room ceremony November 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. The award is the the nation's highest civilian honor that present to individuals who have made significant contributions to the United States of America. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 16: President Donald Trump presents Justice Alan Page with the Medal of Freedom in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. on November 16, 2018. (Photo by Calla Kessler/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to baseball legend Babe Ruth, his grandson Thomas Stevens accepting, at the White House in Washington, DC, on November 16, 2018. - The Medal is the highest civilian award of the United States. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
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