WATCH: Barack Obama says Michael Jordan "is more than an internet meme"

The NBA legend was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Tuesday

WATCH: Barack Obama says Michael Jordan "is more than an internet meme"

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Michael Jordan remains one of the best players to ever play basketball, but to people of a certain generation, he is simply an internet meme.

During his speech in 2009, as he was being inducted into Basketball's Hall of Fame, Jordan began to cry on stage when thanking various people who helped during his career. In recent years, his crying face has become one of the internet's biggest phenomenons.

Jordan was one of 21 men and women, who were awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Tuesday in the White House by Barack Obama. The award is the highest civilian honour that can be given to an American citizen.

When speaking about Jordan, Obama praised his on-court career, but also joked that he was "more than an internet meme". 

The 53-year-old was one of three sports people to earn the award. Jordan was joined by fellow NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and recently retired baseball broadcaster Vin Scully in earning the award.

Bruce Springsteen, Tom Hanks, Robert De Niro, Diana Ross and Ellen DeGeneres were among the others to be given the award by President Obama. 

Despite the joking, where Obama praised Jordan for his role in Space Jam, the outgoing President gave a tribute that shows how great Jordan was.

"There's a reason you call somebody "the Michael Jordan of... The Michael Jordan of neurosurgery, or the Michael Jordan of rabbis... and they know what you’re talking about, because Michael Jordan is the Michael Jordan of greatness"