Video: James Harden Wins NBA MVP Award but Bill Russell Steals the Show

James Harden was named the NBA's Most Valuable Player of the season last night but Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell stole the show.

The Rockets guard capped a stellar season by clinching the game's most prestigious individual award, a year after he was pipped to the accolade by former teammate Russell Westbrook.

Harden averaged a career-high 30.4 points per game during the regular season as Houston went 65-17, which was both a franchise record and the best record in the league.

Houston Rockets guard James Harden poses for photos with his MVP award during the NBA Award Show at Barker Hanger. Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports

While the Rockets fell in seven games in the Western Conference finals against eventual NBA champions Golden State Warriors, Harden was rightly rewarded for his brilliance.

"The last four years have been like knocking on the door, knocking on the door," Harden said in his acceptance speech. "Now the moment is finally here. Just every single year, you try to come back and be better than you were the year before, and just to be holding that trophy finally, it means a lot. But it doesn't stop here. We've got a long way to go. But it feels good to have it though."

However, while the Rockets star clinched the MVP award, it was Russell who grabbed the headlines after giving Charles Barkley the finger just as the latter was thanking him in a speech ahead of a lifetime achievement award for Oscar Robertson.


— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) June 26, 2018

The 11-time NBA champion later tweeted an apology, adding the gesture comes naturally to him whenever he sees Chuck.

"Sorry everyone, I forgot it was live TV & I can't help myself whenever I see Charles it just is pure instinct," he tweeted.

Sorry everyone, I forgot it was live TV & I can’t help myself whenever I see Charles it just is pure instinct. @NBAonTNT @NBA #birdman #NBAAwards

— TheBillRussell (@RealBillRussell) June 26, 2018

It didn't take long for Twitter to react to Russell's gesture and the picture of the Celtics legend flipping the bird became an instant social media phenomenon.

The two greatest Celtics: Russell and Bird

— Adi Joseph (@AdiJoseph) June 26, 2018

"woj u cant tweet spoilers during the draft"

— Matt Ellentuck (@mellentuck) June 26, 2018

When they haven’t gotten to MVP yet and it’s 10:05 pm.

— Tom Westerholm (@Tom_NBA) June 26, 2018

It was not the first time Russell stole the show at the NBA Awards show either. Last year, the former Celtics center was on stage with a quintet of legendary big men—Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O'Neal, Dikembe Mutombo, Alonzo Mourning and David Robinson—and joked he would kick their asses after being presented with a lifetime achievement award.

Meanwhile, Ben Simmons clinched the Rookie of the Year award and Dwane Casey was named Coach of the Year just over a month after being fired by the Toronto Raptors.

"Once you get fired, it's not a good feeling when someone, after you have a franchise record [in wins] and then you still get let go, that's the uneasy part," Casey, who has since been appointed as Detroit Pistons' head coach, was quoted as saying by ESPN.

"Say, OK, something must be wrong with me. But the opportunity in Detroit has given me more enthusiasm, and I'm excited to get going again. Again, a lot of it goes with Tom Gores, the owner; he's exciting and excited to get another chance in Detroit."