Among the 21 names announced by the White House on Wednesday included Ellen DeGeneres, Robert De Niro, Bill and Melinda Gates, Tom Hanks, Michael Jordan, Robert Redford, Diana Ross and Bruce Springsteen.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation's highest civilian honor. The awards will be presented at the White House on Nov. 22.
MORE: Congressional resolution introduced to honor Dodgers voice Vin Scully
Scully was the voice of the Dodgers for 67 seasons. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998 and just concluded his final season in the broadcast booth.
In a recorded phone call, Scully asked White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest if he and the president were sure of the decision.
"Oh my gosh, no. Are you sure? I'm just an old baseball announcer," Scully said with a laugh.
"You've had a remarkable impact on the lives of generations of sports fans in this country," Earnest replied. "You've brought a decency and a professionalism to this job that hasn't just captured the attention of generations of Americans but it's captured the attention of the president of the United States and you've got quite a legacy."
"Well gosh, I'm rather overwhelmed and humbled, thank you so much Josh," Scully said.
Abdul-Jabbar won five championships during his career with the Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks. He was also a six-time NBA Most Valuable Player and a 19-time NBA All Star.
The full list of recipients include:
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
- Elouise Cobell (posthumous) - Blackfeet Tribal community leader and an advocate for Native Americans.
- Ellen DeGeneres - Award-winning comedian and daytime talk show host.
- Robert De Niro - Academy-Award winning actor and Kennedy Center honoree.
- Richard Garwin - Polymath physicist who contributed to U.S. defense and intelligence technologies.
- Bill and Melinda Gates - Co-founder of Microsoft and founders of Gates Foundation.
- Frank Gehry - World renowned architect best known for designing the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles.
- Margaret H. Hamilton - Helped create on-board flight software for NASA's Apollo command modules and lunar modules.
- Tom Hanks - Academy-Award winning actor and Kennedy Center honoree.
- Grace Hopper (posthumous) - Pioneered computers and programming development from the 1940s through the 1980s.
- Michael Jordan - NBA player for Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards who won six championships, five Most Valuable Player awards and appeared in 14 All-Star games.
- Maya Lin - Artist and designer who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C.
- Lorne Michaels - Emmy-Award winning producer and screenwriter best known for creating and producing Saturday Night Live.
- Newt Minow - Attorney who served as chairman of the Federal Communications Committee (FCC).
- Eduardo Padrón - President of Miami Dade College (MDC).
- Robert Redford - Academy-Award winning director and revered actor who founded the Sundance Institute and the Sundance Film Festival.
- Diana Ross - Oscar nominee, inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, recipient of the Grammy Awards highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award, and named as a Kennedy Center honoree.
- Vin Scully
- Bruce Springsteen - Singer and songwriter who, along with his E Street Band, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Springsteen is also a Kennedy Center honoree.
- Cicely Tyson - Emmy-Award and a Tony-Award winning actress who was also named a Kennedy Center honoree.