Bill Russell Gives Charles Barkley Middle Finger At NBA Awards, Fans Go Wild On Social Media [VIDEO]
Charles Barkley thanked basketball Hall of Fame center Bill Russell at Monday night’s NBA Awards, and Russell responded by giving the TNT analyst the middle finger on live television.
Audience members clearly realized it, too, as they laughed amid the applause. Barkley was onstage with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to present Oscar Robertson with the Lifetime Achievement Award, and also paid tribute to several NBA legends when he got to Russell and thanked him. Russell later apologized for his gesture on Twitter, where he said flipping Barkley the bird was “pure instinct.”
BILL RUSSELL IS THE TRUE GOAT pic.twitter.com/KaQu6OgzJU
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) June 26, 2018
— TheBillRussell (@RealBillRussell) June 26, 2018
Russell, who played his entire career (1956-1969) with the Celtics, has made that gesture to other people previously, however. Here, he did it to a cameraman during a game while sitting beside Chauncey Billups, and Kevin Garnett posted the photo on Instagram.
Russell was an 11-time NBA champion, a 12-time All-Star and a five-time MVP. At last year’s NBA Awards, Russell told Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, Dikembe Mutombo and David Robinson he could still “kick their ass” if he really tried.
Fans on social media quickly started making jokes about it Russell’s middle finger toward Barkley:
The two greatest Celtics: Russell and Bird https://t.co/NMOas3RsWk
— Adi Joseph (@AdiJoseph) June 26, 2018
“Pineapple belongs on pizza.”
— SB Nation (@SBNation) June 26, 2018
“woj u cant tweet spoilers during the draft” pic.twitter.com/GH9dR8LdRN
— Matt Ellentuck (@mellentuck) June 26, 2018
When they haven’t gotten to MVP yet and it’s 10:05 pm. pic.twitter.com/GuNXf8crN0
— Tom Westerholm (@Tom_NBA) June 26, 2018
— Brian Floyd (@BrianMFloyd) June 26, 2018
Russell received the NBA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017.