"I thought it was one of the coolest things ever to happen to me."
The Internet fell in love with an earnest exchange issued by Celtics' legend Bill Russell during the NBA Awards Monday. Russell, an 11-time champion, motioned to Charles Barkley with his middle-finger. The camera just happened to pass at the right time during the telecast. Incidentally, Russell jumped in Twitter to explain his reaction, saying: "Sorry everyone, I forgot it was live TV & I can’t help myself whenever I see Charles it just is pure instinct."
Of course any person in his position would be honored to even receive acknowledgement from the stately figure. During his appearance on Jim Rose's podcast, Barkley explained that he was happy to be on the wrong end of that exchange, his words:
"I thought it was one of the coolest things ever to happen to me, because Bill's a mentor, he's like a father to me and he does that to everybody. It meant a lot to me, because if you know Bill, well, I don't even call him Bill, Mr. Russell, he is one of the best people ever."
Barkley admitted that it was difficult to contain his laughter as he tried to appear respectable considering the circumstances. He and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were in the midst of presenting Oscar Robertson, another legend of the game, with a lifetime achievement award. Needless to say, Charles Barkley is not known for his serious demeanor. Other winners on the night were MVP James Harden, Most Improved Player Victor Oladipo, and Coach of the Year Dwane Casey, who was unceremoniously dumped by his organization, the Raptors.