Bob Cousy didn’t go all the way to the White House to tell you what to think about Donald Trump.
The Boston Celtics legend raised eyebrows Thursday when he referred to the president as “extraordinary” during his Presidential Medal of Freedom acceptance speech.
“This is special because it is being presented by the most extraordinary president in my lifetime,” Cousy said.
While some wondered whether Cousy the remark confirms him as a Trump supporter, the 91-year-old remained vague when the Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy asked him what he meant by “extraordinary.”
“In my mind, the word ‘extraordinary’ is in the mind of the beholder,” Cousy said Friday. “The haters can put whatever connotation to it they want, and the people on the other side can also do so. That’s precisely what I had in mind, so this way everybody can put whatever connotation they want to it.
Cousy worked on the speech tirelessly since he learned he’d receive the nation’s highest civilian honor. He intentionally wrote it in a way that would reflect his own political beliefs without imposing them on others.
“Trust me, I did this a month ago,” he continued. “I practiced every day and kept making hand note revisions. My bride and I were registered independents for 63 years. I wanted to maintain my independence. I didn’t want to be a robot thinker on every issue that comes along and have to vote the way the party votes.”
Cousy intended to strike a respectful, but not fawning, tone in his speech.
“I’ve been to the White House five times (during the presidencies of Dwight D. Eisenhower; John F. Kennedy; Lyndon B. Johnson; Ronald Reagan and now Trump). I’ve been through the experience. I’m not awed, but I am respectful of the most powerful office in the world.
“So whoever’s there, in my mind, you have to be respectful, especially at 91 when they’re hanging a medal around your neck that is so meaningful.
“So I very carefully tried to broach … I wanted to say an appropriate thank you to the president, so that’s what I eventually came up with.”
Cousy only cared about the reaction his daughter, who opposes Trump, had to his speech. And he said she accepted it fully.
So it’s “mission accomplished,” as far as Cousy’s latest trip to the White House is concerned.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images