In awarding the nation’s highest civilian honor to the basketball legend Jerry West, President Trump joked that the Hall of Famer received the distinction Thursday in part because he hailed from a state Trump won by 43 points.
In a private ceremony in the Oval Office, Trump gave the 81-year-old West the Presidential Medal of Freedom, an award that only the president can bestow.
Trump strayed from his prepared remarks when he mentioned that West came from the “great, great state” of West Virginia.
“I probably shouldn’t say this, but I won it by 43 points. That’s a lot,” Trump said. “Probably helped you getting this award today, that you come from West Virginia.”
Trump often finds opportunities to turn attention to himself, especially about his 2016 election win, which he brings up in most speeches.
Trump has given out 10 of these medals, with half going to athletes, including the golfer Tiger Woods, NFL Hall of Fame member Roger Staubach, the pro basketball great Bob Cousy and posthumously to the baseball legend Babe Ruth.
West, who spent his career with the Los Angeles Lakers, as a player and then as a coach, said on receiving the medal: “It never ceases to amaze me the places you can go in this world by chasing a bouncing ball.”